Lonely Planet Writer

Yoko Ono’s latest large-scale mural unveiled in Washington, DC

An artist, singer, songwriter, and peace activist, Yoko Ono has made a name for herself far beyond being John Lennon’s widow. She has collaborated on chart-topping albums, exhibited her artwork at museums around the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art. And now her artwork graces the side of Union Market in Washington, DC.

Union Market mural by Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono’s mural in Union Market. Photo by Emma McAlary

The large-scale, public-art mural, Relax, Your Heart is Stronger Than What You Think!, features Ono’s signature outdoor text work across the market’s 1000 sq ft exterior western wall.  “She’s done outdoor works before,” said Mark Beasley, curator of media and performance art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, who helped bring the work to the public as part of the inaugural Hirshhorn in the City endeavor. “Usually they’re short statements, rather haiku-like,” he said. “I hope our hearts will be stronger and stronger forever,” said Ono of her inspiration in a press release.

Why partner with Union Market, the trendy food market in Northeast D.C.?  “There are visual artists at work on-site,” Beasley said. “It’s a cultural hub, and that particular wall has lots of traffic.”

Yoko Ono unveils new mural goes on display in Union Market
Yoko Ono at the 10th anniversary celebration of ‘The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil’ at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on July 14, 2016 in Las Vegas. Image by JB Lacroix/ Getty Images

The mural dovetails the 10th anniversary of Ono’s “Wish Tree for Washington,” a live dogwood installed in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden on which museum viewers are invited to tie a handwritten wish. Ono’s mural will hang for several months. After that, Hirshhorn in the City will introduce new, as-yet-unveiled works that aim to introduce international contemporary art to diverse Washington communities.

Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933. The second wife and widow of singer-songwriter John Lennon of the Beatles, she has been at the forefront of the international contemporary art movement since the 1950s.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, one of the Smithsonian Institution’s esteemed national museums, showcases modern and contemporary art in the United States. It’s located on the National Mall in Washington, DC Union Market is a food hall in DC’s trendy NoMa neighborhood where culinary entrepreneurs purvey creative global and local fare, from Indian dosas to Belgian waffles to Rappahannock oysters.

By Barbara Noe Kennedy