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On The Red Carpet At “Ringo Peace & Love 2014”!
By Anne M. Raso
I was lucky enough to be on the red carpet for the opening reception of Ringo Peace & Love 2014 at the Soho Contemporary Art Gallery at 259 Bowery in the East Village on June 19th. Members of the press each got a minute with The Man himself outside on the carpet!
Ringo's art pops up once a year at prestigious New York galleries when he is playing with his All-Star Band on their summer tour. People who buy his art (which starts at $750 for a small canvas) and get a meet-n-greet with him at the gallery. I have even seen him personally autograph some of the larger pieces people have bought on the back of the canvases (even though they are obviously signed in the front). Everyone knows that Ringo no longer signs but he is genuinely grateful for everyone who buys his pieces--that because 100 per cent of the proceeds go to The Lotus Foundation. Ringo told journalists last night how he chose that charity to donate his art proceeds to The Lotus Foundation: “The Lotus Foundation does a lot of things. It helps out around the world. It brings water to villages that need it…it lets us do whatever we want to do.”
I don’t have to tell you that Mr. Starr looks about fifteen years younger than he is. When he walked up to me, I asked him when he decided to take art seriously. He made a point of saying that it wasn't really "serious at first” and was “something I did when I got bored.” He added, "I had a lot of down time in hotels and while traveling and needed something to do. So I would just start drawing things...kind of goofy versions of things around me." He went on to say that is "proud of the fact that the Lotus Foundation does so much good,” that he still meditates everyday and that he thinks it is necessary to do for world peace. He joked, "I am even meditating right now!"
The magical qualities of Ringo’s art are that you can see not only the influence of classic pop art (a la both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein) but there are many images of his life past and present. One silkscreen features Ringo today, flashing the peace sign with words like "peace" and "love" scattered around the blank white space above him. Some simpler paintings feature one or multiple five-point stars. One large canvas features Ringo from Help! In all black with colorful print guns on either side of him called Not For Violence With Bandana. Ringo might just be the ultimate peacenik--I noticed that anytime anyone asks to pose for a photo with him, he insists that they make the peace sign right along with him.
Ringo did not attend the reception with his longtime wife Barbara Bach in tow, but rather just showed with friendly publicist Elizabeth Freund, her assistant Marina and a management team in tow. His All-Star Band arrived in a large black SUV about twenty minutes ahead of him but only Steve Lukather stopped for a moment to say hi to media and I snapped a quick photo of him.
Ringo says that he stays so youthful on tour by pounding on the treadmill for an hour each morning in hotel gyms, meditating and "spreading the word of peace." He's a 60s icon that has kept the more admirable themes of the era alive and it was sweet to see him accept gifts from guests on line at his gallery opening, including a handmade bowtie with peacock features handed to him by the man who makes them. Other people handed him jewelry with stars on it.
I asked Ringo which of his pieces of his art on display at the gallery is his favorite and he said, "I can't tell you that because people are listening." I think what he was getting at was that everyone would try to buy the one piece he said he favors instead of going to the gallery and picking out a piece that was to their liking strictly on its artistic merits.
What made my night was that Ringo told me that he remembered me from two years ago, when I interviewed him on the carpet of the gallery that hosted his art at the time. It was probably because I was wearing all eight of the white rubber "peace bracelets" he threw to me in front of the Hard Rock Cafe on his 70th birthday. I was wearing them again last night in the hopes that it might make him stop and talk to me first and it worked. I can die happy now, LOL.
I am looking forward to see what new art Ringo comes up with in the coming year. I noticed the absence of drums in his works and I would love to see nothing more than a silkscreened series of his famous Shea Stadium Ludwig Kit (which was just inside the front doors of Bloomingdale's flagship store at Lexington and 59th) for the 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America back in February. Some canvases featuring his famous ringed fingers would also be some pop art that any Beatles fan would love to own as well.
If you would like to check out the art for yourself, you can visit the gallery anytime before July 15th—of course, the exhibit gets smaller as the pieces sell. You can also see it at www.sohocontemporaryart.com or on their official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sohocontemporaryart. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org, you can request that a catalog of Ringo’s art be emailed to you for free. The gallery is open daily tile 7PM and the phone number is (646) 719-1316.