My Beloved Wife Yoko Ono

This iconic photo was taken by Annie Leibovitz five hours before John was shot.

For most of my life I went along with the mob consensus that Yoko Ono was to be dissed because “she broke up the Beatles” and because (to quote my brother, Mike Donsky, Esq. about another artist) her singing “sounded like someone was killing a cat”.  Have a listen here at Youtube

HOWEVER, last summer I participated in an artwork that Yoko had originally created in 1953 and my opinion of her artistic merit changed.  For years I thought of Yoko only in musical terms. I had forgotten that before she started singing with John she was a well-respected conceptual artist (there is a good article about Yoko’s art here in the New York Times). Yoko was part of the Fluxus group of artists and they were super-cool.  (You can read about another Fluxus piece I did here.)

Anyway, on the first day of the summer, last June, I went out into Central Park at 5 a.m. to participate in a Yoko Ono artwork called “Secret Piece”. The piece was part of Make Music Day. Here are the instructions they gave us beforehand:

We will meet at Columbus Circle starting at 5AM. Bring any musical instrument or just your voice, and we will send you to a secluded part of the park to play the note of your choice to the accompaniment of birds.

At 8AM we will all return to Columbus Circle for hot green tea.

When I arrived, volunteers gave me this “score” to the piece and then I set out into the park on my own.

I wondered whether it was a good idea to be wandering in Central Park by myself  so early in the day- it was eerily deserted – but I really wanted to try Yoko’s piece so I headed  towards Strawberry Fields .  There was the most beautiful sunrise on the way.

Sunrise on the Solstice 2011

When I got to the Imagine mosaic, there was already a guy there with his instrument, a rainstick.  I sat down and rather than play the stupid recorder I’d brought, I  listened to the guy’s rain.  He played the stick very slowly,turning it over and over, making that rain sound in the empty, quiet, oval.

After a while, a wonderful feeling of  contentment and gratitude washed over me.  Yoko was onto something.  It was blissful to be outside in the serenity of an early morning, in the glory of nature in early summer, concentrating on nothing but the “one note” .  It was magic.  It made me happy and relaxed and not even worried about the fearless free-range rats and rabid raccoons that call the park home.

Yoko did not show up in the park that day, but her art spoke for her and I must allow that it was brilliant.


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