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John Ono Lennon Sculpture

How it came to be titled, John “Ono” Lennon

On December 10, 1980, John Ono Lennon was violently taken from us. As my artistic mentor, I was devastated and grieved deeply for the loss.   I felt compelled, as many artists did, to express something in my art form - sculpture - for John. 

I first set out to do a life-size monument of him.  I proposed to have the City of New York allow it to be donated to the newly designated Strawberry Fields Area of Central Park - named after a Beatle’s song in John’s honor.  I sent my proposals to the mayor’s office and parks commissioner and set out to first sculpt his head as an example of my work.   Sadly, the mayor’s office responded with a “no thank you” - with the explanation that no new sculptures were being added to Central Park for maintenance reasons.  While this deterred me from pursuing the monument, it did not dissuade me from still feeling compelled to sculpt my beloved late brother.

Unfortunately, sculpting from photos is not as good as sculpting from life - especially when the photos of your subject all make him look very different.  So, I decided to do a representational portrait of John, i.e., NeoRomantic portrait of him by way of the symbols that represented him, rather than try to make it look like him at any one time.

I tacked up every photo I could find of him on my studio wall and began to sculpt.  I found myself predominately using a photo of John and Yoko. When the piece was done my friend Henry came by and saw it.  He said, “Hey, it looks like Yoko.”  At first I thought he was just being a wise guy, but then as I looked at it some more I discovered he was right.  At some angles it feels like John and at others you can feel Yoko's presence as well.  I loved it, and so I looked up and said to the wind, "O.K. John, I can take a hint,” and named it, "Portrait of John Ono Lennon."


Years later, I saw a record album with a sequence of photos of John’s face on the label turning into Yoko’s face.   And don’t you know, that one of those faces looked more like my sculpture than just the photo of John’s face alone.


I know a lot of people blame Yoko for breaking up the Beatles, so I’m sure there are those who might be put off by my calling him John Ono Lennon.  But I’m not one of them.  I believe if you love someone, then you want them to be happy, in whatever way that happiness comes.  For whatever reasons, apparently Yoko filled the void of lovelessness that John carried from his childhood - “after all I’m forever in your debt”  -Woman, by JOL.  I was happy for him, and as sad as I was to see the Beatles end, I was still happy for my friend, my mentor, because, as he also sang, “I am you as you are me” - and yes, I was he as he was me.  Our lives had a lot of similar experiences and consequently similar outlooks.  The feelings he expressed were not just his own, but mine as well.

“All I want is the truth, just gimme some truth.” 


“The only truth you have is your own experience.” 



A PROFOUND LENNON dream of late November 1980

As a loving fan of John's and loving him as my contemporary artistic mentor, I had hopes of some day getting to meet him - but not as some star struck fan, but rather as an accomplished artist in my own right. 

One night during the last week of November, 1980, I had the following profound dream. It left me touched and taught me something I have never forgotten.  In the dream I was actually in John's Dakota apartment with he and Yoko. I remember my being blown away over the fact that I was actually in his home - John Lennon’s home. 

Surprisingly, the place was far from fancy and with the way he was dressed he looked more like the super of the building than a superstar.  But that made no difference - I was still in awe of it all nevertheless.  I mean I was actually in John Lennon’s home!   And so, as I talked to him I talked with a tone of hero worship.  And as he responded he treated me with disgust. 

At first, like a battered spouse in denial,  I wouldn't believe it, so I kept being nice and worshipping him.  But he kept treating me like a jerk.  Finally, after taking so much of it, I could take no more and told him where to get off.  I yelled in his face, "I don't care who the fuck you think you are or how much I and every one else loves your music, I'm a person too and I also deserve to be treated well.  Fuck you, asshole!”

And from those words, he turned around with a big smile on his face, love and respect in his eyes, put his hand on my shoulder - like a loving older brother would - looked into my eyes and said "There you go."

Synchronistically, a week later he was killed. What I learned from him in that dream was to never worship anyone.  Appreciate, emulate, yes, but never make any other man into a God.  I felt that this dream happening just before he died helped prepare me a little for his death.



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