"The Ballad of John and Yoko" by Alice McMahon

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“The Ballad of John and Yoko” charcoal on mylar, 30 × 25″

John and Yoko meet “American Gothic” :D

I worked on this latest piece “The Ballad of John and Yoko” on December 8th, the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and wanted to finish it for Christmas, “WAR IS OVER! if you want it Happy Christmas”.

Another charcoal on mylar work, this one was kind of fun, and it’s been so dark in the studio this past couple of weeks now that winter’s set in, it was nice to come in and see it on the easel and smile.

This is another portrait of my oldest son and his girl, my models for “Oh My Love”. She was in town over the summer and I took this snap when we were heading to downtown Chicago on the train one day. I was going to my studio, they were heading to sightsee, including the Art Institute of Chicago. Carrie is an artist, and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” is part of the AIOC collection. Not sure if they saw the work that day, but this photo struck me double, because they look to me like both John and Yoko (so in love, those sunglasses!) and also so similar in pose and setting to “American Gothic”. That made me smile and while I know that the Grant Wood piece is the most highly spoofed artwork of all time, I just couldn’t resist this one.

I took another reference of the train station in my neighborhood and used it in the background, only changing the dormer window to a gothic style window and adding the peace sign. Since I already painted the Let It Be shirt Alex is wearing in the photo, I decided to change the logo to a John Lennon drawing of John and Yoko. I kept the stylized rounded tree shapes of the Wood painting, he was inspired by Memling. I also kept the potted plants on the steps of the building, in Wood’s painting these were meant to indicate the farmer’s daughter’s domesticity. My drawing is showing a committed couple, not yet married, but possibly moving in that direction. The Celtic knotwork pendants were my gift to them the first time I met Carrie, the day I took the photo for “Oh My Love”.

Wood’s piece was painted in 1930 but depicted the Victorian era. Mine depicts a contemporary couple, but harks back to the Beatles hippie days. I replaced the pitchfork with the carnation John was holding in the famous John and Yoko photo of the Bed In.

I used the same scale as the Grant wood original, and took the walk two blocks from my studio to see the painting in person, up close. I also wanted to take a look at the frame, and plan to frame my drawing as similar as possible. It’s a rustic looking distressed frame.

I guess that’s all. Fun one, on to the next!


american, girl, gothic, house, john, man, shades, sunglasses, yoko

I specialize in figurative charcoal drawing. My work was recently shown and sold at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Current works delve into the realm of symbolism and magic realism.
All of my drawings are meant to be noble representations of individual subjects, and also bring together a wealth of influences, recognition of art history and myth and a contemporary attitude to create images that are of the moment, but hopefully will also remain relevant in the future.

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  • Glenn-Patrick Ferguson
    Glenn-Patrick ...over 6 years ago

    Very cool Alice.Your creativity is above and beyond!!!!!!!

  • Sean Farragher
    Sean Farragherover 6 years ago

    brilliant work,,,

  • Joni Philbin
    Joni Philbinover 6 years ago

    I love that t-shirt!
    we saw the john lennon art show that yoko ono tours with called “come toghether”
    My husband and I were there for over an hour and it was packed. They had his music on softly in the back and literally when I looked around, everyone was laughing or crying or just completely mezmerized. I was already a fan, but seein his art in person was a whole new level. He was so gifted. I miss him too. Peace.

  • Vasile Stan
    Vasile Stanover 6 years ago

    Just amazing. I’m lost for words.

  • Thomas Dodd
    Thomas Doddover 6 years ago

    haha – love all the references in this one – very clecer and another great rendering!

  • KevinKelly
    KevinKellyalmost 6 years ago

    Very cool.

  • Thanks Kevin!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Rory Stapleton
    Rory Stapletonover 5 years ago

    Excellent homage to two artists and a person married to one…JOHN and Yoko and GRANT WOOD…like your style…good work, (I’m old enough to not only remember, but, to have participated in the, “I love Yoko Ono, she’s good for John and the I hate Yoko Ono, she caused the Beatles breakup” debates – raging arguments – that erupted when those two got together…never guess which side I took?!).

  • Ha! Thanks so much Rory. I was a bit on the young side, missed the hippie era by about 5 years – but it did make an impression on me – and my kids are now showing signs. The whole White Album series explores this theme. Thanks for the great comment! ~ Alice

    – Alice McMahon

  • lindybird
    lindybirdover 5 years ago

    HEEHEE. What a tribute, not only to Grant Wood, but to John and Yoko, and your lovely son!!!

  • Kind of fun. :) This piece won first place in a local art competition this past summer. My artists daughter also had work accepted into the show. So fun to be running in the same circles with her already! She’s only 18.

    – Alice McMahon

  • lindybird
    lindybirdover 5 years ago

    Awesome! Does she have a RB account? My son is on here, too—his avatar name is Atheum. He’s not sure what he wants to major in, but wants some type of art involvement.

  • Anne Couteau
    Anne Couteauabout 5 years ago

    I love new takes on “American Gothic”

  • Thanks Anne, I never intended to do something like this – but the snapshot somehow reminded me of both American Gothic and John & Yoko.

    – Alice McMahon

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