Give art a chance

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Forty years after their landmark peace initiative at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were back at the hotel in spirit, with a major exhibition of former Beatle Lennon's art work on view at the Hilton Amsterdam in late March 2009.

The exhibition was held under the umbrella of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 'Bed–In for Peace' taking place at the Hilton Amsterdam. Produced by Yoko Ono and The Estate of John Lennon/Bag One Arts this was the largest exhibition ever held of Lennon's art, with a total of 190 works, many of which have never shown before in Europe – including a limited edition print of the hand–written text for the Lennon song " Give Peace A Chance" . In addition, the hotel featured a private collection of handwritten documents and sketches produced by Lennon and Ono during their stay at the Hilton in 1969. These items included an amusing, highly personal, and tender question–and–answer series held between the Ono–Lennons and a young Dutch journalist, Constance Vrijdags, who was able to sneak into their room during the staging of the Bed–In For Peace. Al though Lennon is best known throughout the world for the music and ideas that shaped a generation and a way of life for millions in the 1960s and 1970s, few know that Lennon's first passion was his artwork, and that it was for this that he most wished to achieve recognition. Before his tragic death in 1980, Lennon told his wife Ono that there were two things he hoped to accomplish in his lifetime: to record another album and to be recognised as a visual artist. The first dream was fulfilled with the recording with Ono of 'Double Fantasy'; but his life was cut short before he had a chance to achieve the second. In what she has called a " silent promise to share Lennon's love for art with the rest of the world, " Ono began producing a series of fine art prints from Lennon's original drawings in 1986. The works, produced in limited editions of 300, were selected from Lennon's sketchbooks; they are deeply personal images of his family, his life, his experiences. In many ways, they form an intimate visual diary of Lennon's thoughts and feelings during the last – and happiest – years of his life. Some of the prints have been hand coloured by Ono, making them among the couple's many collaborative projects. The print collection is an ongoing programme, and new images are added regularly. Meanwhile, the live art shows of Lennon and Ono are the inspiration behind an event at the View Two Gallery in the UK city of Liverpool, birthplace of pop band the Beatles, that will be held at the end of March 2009. Sculptor Janet Holmes is collaborating with singer–songwriter Dean Johnson to create a one–off work of art in front of visitors to the Mathew Street venue. While he plays an improvised score, the Wirral–based artist will hand–mould a work from clay. Observers are invited to talk to the duo, and the interaction could influence the outcome of the work, which Janet hopes to ultimately donate to the gallery.

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