John Lennon drawings come to Martha’s Vineyard

John Lennon's "Fish Winking" is one of 100 drawings and sketches to be on display at the Harbor View Hotel this weekend. — Photo courtesy of Yoko Ono

The late John Lennon of The Beatles is known primarily as a songwriter and musician, but he was a budding artist first. The Artwork of John Lennon, a traveling collection and sale of his drawings, sketches and song lyrics, goes on display at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, Friday through Sunday, August 3 to 5.

In a telephone interview last weekend, Mr. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, talked briefly about her late husband’s love of art and his prolific habit of sketching or doodling, even in the middle of legal meetings. “He did it when he was bored,” she said, and would give his sketches to the lawyers.

“John always wanted to do a gallery show,” she said. Ms. Ono described his artwork, which appears in original form on canvas, rice paper, and conventional drawing paper, as family-oriented, gentle, and loving in contrast to his music, which could be more pointed and protest-related.

The work on display at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown will consist of limited edition prints in the form of lithographs, etchings, and serigraphs signed by Ms. Ono, an artist in her own right. Ms. Ono retains most of the originals. New York’s Museum of Modern Art has some Lennon artwork in its archives. A minimum donation of $2 at the door will go to the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.

Art was the one area the legendary musician excelled at in school, according to Ms. Ono, and he was enrolled at the Liverpool College of Art from 1957 to 1960 between the ages of 17 and 20. “He was very proud of that,” Ms. Ono said, even though he left to become a musician before completing the program there.

Describing how she met him, she said, “He jumped into my show and told me he had gone to art school.” Mr. Lennon later enjoyed drawing for their son, Sean. Asked if she felt she had influenced Mr. Lennon’s art, Ms. Ono said, “He was doing it before me. I reminded him how much fun it is.”

“His work is very different from mine,” she said. Ms. Ono’s art is on display in London at the Serpentine Gallery. “Nobody understands it,” she said of her own work.

The Artwork of John Lennon, Friday, August 3, 12 noon–8 pm; Saturday, August 4, 11 am–7 pm; Sunday, August 5, 11 am–6 pm. Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. Minimum donation at the door, $2. For information, call 508-627-7000.