This Week I Love …


… Yoko Ono.

When I met Husband Mike I was 25 years old. I had been an avid Beatles fan since the 6th grade and accepted without question the notion that Yoko Ono single-handedly destroyed the best rock band ever to have existed.* I have no idea why I just went with this and never really investigated for myself, but when HM found me out he pushed me. He said, “Have you seen her art?” He told me about Painting to Shake Hands and Ceiling Painting, the latter being the piece that essentially made John Lennon fall in love with her. He explained that she was an experimental and avant-garde artist whose work was deceptively simple and consistently evoked strong emotional responses in the people who experienced it. And he said that although he didn’t adore her music, he admired her rawness, fearlessness, and relentless desire to push and experiment. I was astonished, and began to explore her work a little on my own. I don’t love it all, but I love a lot of it. And I’ve found that my admiration for Ono has grown steadily over the years.

Despite her tireless work for good causes – world peace and disarmament, raising awareness about AIDS and money for research, and disaster relief for multiple events and countries – Ono remains one of the most reviled figures in music and pop culture history. And yet she has maintained serenity and focus through the years, making music and art tirelessly and originally while the acid critiques roll off her back. (Or so it seems.) She’s nearly 81 now, and in the past ten years or so has started releasing dance tracks. Last year she had two consecutive #1 hits on the Billboard Dance Club Play Charts. Did I mention she’s 81? And that droves of people loathe her? I cannot help but admire her dedication to creating music and art, and doing so with unique vision and authentic passion. My impression? Yoko Ono really couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of her. In the best possible way.

And this woman has amazing style to boot. Although sunglasses indoors can seem a little affected, I think she totally pulls it off. Once famous for her long, wild hair, she now wears a chic, short crop and a rotating cast of fabulous hats. Her uniform of gorgeously tailored suits – most of them black but with eye-catching details – gives her the air of a chic, worldly stateswoman. She’ll occasionally swap in some patent leather and wears it with the panache of an inherently stylish human being. And seriously, that McQueen skull scarf she’s sporting in the image up top? You know that hits me right where I live.

Anyone else a Yoko Ono fan? Music, art, or both? Did you know she was cranking out dance hits? Anyone seen her visual pieces in person? (I’m yet to myself, but will someday, I’m sure of it.) Love her sleek, chic, tailored style?

*Want proof she didn’t? Here ya go.

Image via Chart Attack.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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11 Responses to “This Week I Love …”

  1. livi

    I don’t know much about her art, but I have always thought the idea she was responsible for the Beatles breaking up was nothing but sexist claptrap.

    • ballewal

      With a good bit of racism thrown in there for good measure.

  2. Kelsey

    HUGE Yoko Ono fan! A few years before I moved here from Chicago I made a weekend trip just so I could see her retrospective at the Walker. That was in ’02 or ’03, maybe? But perhaps the piece of hers I still think about was an installation of simple, pine box coffins. Many of the coffins had a square cut out where a head would rest. In those squares, trees.

  3. The Style Crone

    I’m an avid fan of Yoko. Love her hats and her activism! Great post!

  4. jvanrit

    So funny I had no idea that Yoko Ono was doing techno music. I don’t think she was too nice to her step-son Julian but you know John was a free spirit and could make his own choices. Interesting lives.

  5. Sheila Dougherty

    Not a great fan of her music, but huge fan of her in general. Deeply respect and admire the way she’s always been true to herself and her principles and honestly not given a toss about what anyone says or thinks of her. I think she’s the perfect example of aging gracefully, and also not aging gracefully, if that makes any sense.

  6. Shawna McComber

    I don’t feel I am in an position to judge, but I do think people love a scapegoat and there is always more to a story than what becomes the popular version. I can’t warm up to her visual art, not that I think it is without talent, it just doesn’t speak to me. The only time I ever heard her musical efforts was that song Walking on Thin Ice which again, I just can’t embrace. That doesn’t mean I dislike her though and I do find her rather interesting. I don’t think women have to be likable nor their talents appeal to me in order for me to find them interesting and what I am interested in is much more Herstory than History.

  7. KT

    I admire Yoko Ono tremendously. No, I don’t know that I’d listen to her music that much. But her art has really stood the test of time; compare her work with that of virtually any other performance artist, and you see how elegant, intelligent and insightful she really is.

    A few years ago, I watched a TV documentary about Yoko Ono. It went more into her pre-Lennon life than most do, and Yoko herself was extensively interviewed. Near the end, the interviewer asked her, Is there anything you regret? What would you do differently if you could do it all again. Yoko thought about it for a long second, then said, “I think I conformed too much.” ROCK ON, YOKO. ROCK ON FOREVER.

  8. pambamboo

    Once again, Sal you are the best! A beautiful post and so reasonable and nonjudgemental as usual. Thanx.

  9. Rachel

    I think if you are a woman married to an incredibly famous and beloved man, you really can’t win; and if that man then dies tragically young, you are pretty much doomed to be hated. It’s so frustrating; I see a very similar attitude in people’s reactions to Courtney Love.

    I read a quote from Yoko Ono once where she said that people always expected her to metaphorically “walk two steps behind John” and disliked her when she wouldn’t do that, because they were equals. That’s a whole heap of sexism and racism right there.

    It’s also hard for me to dislike someone who wrote a song called “Sometimes I feel like smashing my head through a plate glass window.”

  10. Danae Rem

    Having studied art, I was aware of Yoko as a performance artist. She had a retrospective show at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis 20 or so years ago. I don’t remember everything about it but she did have two “elements” that stuck in my mind.

    One was that she had a phone set up in the gallery where her show was and would call and just talk to whoever answered. I was struck by how accessible she was willing to be. I was never there when she called but I loved the idea that it was possible.

    The second was a video of a performance piece she’d done years back – maybe late 50’s early 60’s? In the video, she sat in a chair in the middle of the room and the audience were offered scissors and invited to snip pieces of her clothing away. I was shocked by the audience’s response – they seemed eager to humiliate her (my interpretation) and were grinning and snickering as they snipped away. I couldn’t watch the whole piece. It made me a little sick. She has always occurred for me as an incredibly courageous woman, powerful artist and yes, wonderfully stylish.