John Lennon art exhibit passes through Salt Lake City

Published: Monday, May 7 2012 6:43 p.m. MDT

Gallery goers, reflected in a mirror, check out the new John Lennon exhibit at Pacific Edge Gallery, Friday, May 4, 2012. It is the largest touring exhibition of Lennon's artwork in the world and the items are for sale.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100 works of art by Beatles musician John Lennon spent the weekend on display at The Gateway.

While Lennon achieved global fame during his time with the British musical group, he also went to art school for three years before his Beatles years. He drew and sketched his entire life.

The show at The Gateway is the largest touring exhibition of Lennon's artwork in the world. Richard Anderson likes the song "Nowhere Man" so much that he bought a limited edition copy of Lennon's hand-written lyrics this weekend.

"These are the original lyrics," he said. "It's the original draft of the song and they're changed in here."

It was just one of several framed lyric sheets in the exhibit, along with many other art works that Lennon created during his life.

"This is just a continuation of John's legacy," said Paul Jillson, curator of the Pacific Edge Gallery. "The drawings that he saved are wonderful. (Lennon's wife) Yoko wanted to share them with the rest of the world, and this is how she chose to do it."

Lennon's style is simplistic, often consisting of simple line drawings. The exhibit included several self-portraits, as well as a never-before-shown piece titled "Cloud 9."

"It's the first time we've had this in an exhibition," Jillson said. "It's an outstanding drawing and it's the only one that's been released where John actually has a guitar. He typically used his drawing as a way to escape the pressures of the music business."

A few items were priced as low as $200. The exhibit's highest-priced piece: Lennon's drawing of his famous 1969 "Bed-In For Peace" news conference was $22,000. A first draft of the lyrics to "Imagine" would have set you back $10,000.

"He hadn't even written the chorus yet, so he just wrote "8" to indicate the 8 bars to show where he was going to put the chorus," Jillson said.

Lennon's artwork has been displayed in touring shows since 1988, attracting visitors in every age category. There are about 1,700 pieces of original artwork that Lennon created, with the complete set housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com, kmccord@ksl.com

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