John Morris: From Woodstock to Malibu

John Morris.

A Malibu man who made a splash producing the legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969 has now turned his attention to art and is producing a major show in Los Angeles this weekend that is benefitting a Malibu charity.

After producing more than 400 rock concerts around the world, 78-year-old John Morris changed the focus of his production skills and now co-owns Objects of Art, a business that is mounting its first show in Los Angeles after four other successful runs in Santa Fe, NM. The first-time show at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles will take up 30,000 square feet with as many as 40 art, jewelry and photography dealers. 

“We’ve done these shows in Santa Fe and other cities around the country,” Morris explained, “a mix of contemporary and historic works from all over the world—a wide variety of exhibitors. The attitude of the show is to provide a venue where people can go, not knowing what to expect and be exposed to new objects, old objects and everything in between and hopefully find something that talks to them.” 

Part of the exhibit that spoke to Morris was to include the artwork of the late Dan Eldon. His mother Kathy started a charity in his memory called Creative Visions that’s based in Malibu. While working as a photojournalist in Somalia in 1993, Eldon was killed at the young age of 22.  

“He was killed by a mob while delivering information and humanitarian aid,” Morris recounted. “Kathy started the foundation that is dedicated to have a positive effect on the world through art and film. We’re doing a special exhibit showcasing pieces of his book ‘The Journey is the Destination.’ They will run a film they made on Dan and have Dan’s art that’s been reproduced and blown up for sale along with some of his photographs.”

Kathy Eldon of Creative Visions said she was looking forward to seeing Dan’s work exhibited.

“I’m thrilled that Dan’s fine art prints will finally be on exhibit in Los Angeles,” Eldon said. “[A curator] has selected a new collection of journal pages which should inspire viewers to want to set off on an adventure, whether to a faraway place, a neighborhood in LA they have never explored—or a mysterious part of their soul that is yet undiscovered.”

Another beneficiary of the opening night is “Rock the Elephant,” an anti-poaching charity Morris has been involved in.  

As the head of production at Woodstock, the historic and well-documented three days of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll concert held in Bethel, NY, 48 years ago, The Malibu Times asked Morris, a 25-year Malibu resident, to reminisce. He said Woodstock was not without its difficulties. 

“We dealt with what became one of the largest cities in New York State at that point (attendance at 400,000)—managed to put on one of the best music concerts of all time, which is immortalized in the Woodstock film,” Morris described. “You can see me in that film announcing and coming as close to a nervous breakdown as humanly possible. On Sunday, we had what was later on called a tornado that shot through the festival, poured rain, wind—the stage started sort of sliding, feeling dangerous. 

“I had to tell everybody to get off the towers,” he recalled.  “We hunkered down—we survived it. I still think it’s the best concert I’ve ever been involved in.” 

Morris’ Objects of Art runs Oct. 6-8 at The Reef, 1933 South Broadway, Los Angeles.