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Yoko Ono: Still giving peace a chance

"Ono Portrait," from the "Yoko Ono Imagine Peace" exhibit at Staller Center's University Art Gallery, Stony Brook, opening Sept. 6, 2011. Photo Credit: Handout

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream/But a dream we dream together is reality"

-- "Now or Never" by Yoko Ono, 1972

Yoko Ono's career spans six decades -- before and now long after her relationship with John Lennon. For two years, Rhonda Cooper, director of Staller Center's University Gallery, has tried to snag the "Yoko Ono Imagine Peace" traveling exhibit since she was tipped off about the show by Stony Brook University sculpture professor Nobuho Nogasawa.

Now it's here. And although there's no word yet if Ono herself will appear, her son, Sean Lennon, arrives at Staller for a concert on the exhibit's final day.

"There's an element of nostalgia to the show," says Cooper, as she was supervising its installation. "But the peace message is very clear."

JOHN AND YOKO The exhibit presents photos, posters, documents, videos and recordings from each of their careers, both as solo artists and as a couple. Most iconic: The Montreal Bed-In protest of the Vietnam War. Capitalizing on the global attention their March 20, 1969 marriage drew, John and Yoko spent their honeymoon in an Amsterdam hotel, inviting the press into their room. A second bed-in was planned for New York in May. But John was barred from entering the United States because of a 1968 marijuana conviction. They stayed for a week at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel, receiving such visitors as Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers, Dick Gregory and Murray the K, who all sang "Give Peace a Chance."

YOKO ALONE Beginning in the 1950s, before The Beatles existed, Ono was a pioneer in emerging art forms -- Fluxus, performance and conceptual art. She first drew attention with her Chambers Street loft events in downtown Manhattan. "Imagine Peace" showcases a few of Ono's interactive works that speak to her efforts to involve individuals in achieving peace through the power of imagination. Among the installations aimed at furthering her own brand of "peace process" are Imagine Peace maps inviting you to pinpoint a peace-needy spot in the world. Or you can send a message of love with an ONOCHORD, spelling out "I Love You" in a kind of flashlight Morse code. Flashlights inscribed with "ONOCHORD -- Stony Brook 2011" may be taken home as a gift from Ono. You can write your wishes for peace on a tag placed on a Wish Tree that will be sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, where Ono spends much of her time.

CLOSING NIGHT There's a chance, Cooper says, that Ono will fly from Reykjavik in time for her son's "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger" concert with Charlotte Kemp Muhl. "In any case," Cooper adds, "Sean will be here and stop by to see this show featuring his parents."

"Yoko Imagine Peace" will remain open through intermission of the concert at Staller's Recital Hall.


WHAT "Yoko Imagine Peace" exhibit curated by Kevin Koncannon and John Noga

WHEN | WHERE noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, through Oct. 15, University Gallery, Staller Center, Stony Brook University

INFO Free; stallercenter.com/gallery, 631-632-7240


WHAT "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger" with Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Oct. 15, Staller Center Recital Hall

INFO $34; stallercenter.com, 631-632-2787

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