Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 322: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

Stating the obvious didn’t usually get the results Martin wanted. He knew there was a better chance of it working out in his favor if he waited before he spoke. He and Mike hadn’t really spent much time together in the past 25 years, but the situation was perfect. Why can’t they see that? Martin wondered. How can they be so selfish?

Staying at Val and Mike’s was, to Martin, a given. He’d been doing it for years. He could get a mid-afternoon ferry from Denman, take a leisurely drive down Vancouver Island and get to Val and Mike’s quaint, completely refurbished 1940s house in Nanaimo in time for dinner. There was no denying that Val was a great cook. It was perfect. Why are they being so abrasive? Martin wondered. Maybe I’ll call first next time … no, that won’t work. They might say no.

[to be continued]

“He Didn’t Say” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 321: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

It seemed like every time he came into town he had too many things to accomplish. This trip was no different except that he didn’t really have to be back on Denman Island for anything in particular. Now that he was happily divorced, and his kids had left home, he could stay away as long as he wanted. And, he realized, “I’m in no big hurry to go back to Val and Mike’s after this morning.”

Their reaction had been particularly chilly when he’d told them he’d probably be back by 9:30 or later or maybe not at all. Martin scratched his head again. “How did she put it?” he said, turning his head sideways, trying to recall Val’s exact words. “It’s time you stopped treating us like … ” Martin couldn’t remember the rest because he’d stopped listening and gone into a bit of an internal panic. He needed Mike and Val’s place, but he knew he shouldn’t just say that.

[to be continued]

“Forlorn” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 320: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Martin Lewis pulled his old school bus into a parking spot a block away from The Black Dot Museum of Political Art and switched off the engine. He sat there looking straight ahead, listening to the sound of rain falling on the length of the metal roof—a sound he found vaguely annoying.

Am I ever going to see a sunny day in this city?” he said out loud, trying to recall a single trip to Vancouver when he’d been able to get errands done without having to deal with the rain. It was only 9:30 a.m., and he already felt like it had been a long day. He yawned loudly, stretched and scratched his head all at the same time. Maybe I should take a little nap, he thought to himself. But a nap will throw things off schedule.

[to be continued]

“Man Thinks Woman” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 319: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

On March 31, I noticed an interesting tweet from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. They wanted people to tweet them images that they intended to showcase on a big screen in the museum during the day. What a great idea! I decided to tweet jpegs of David Lester‘s “Inspired Agitators” poster series and some of his other illustrations related to human rights. As directed, I used the hashtag #VisitCMHR. I didn’t really expect they’d put them up on their big screen, because that would just be too easy, right? And they didn’t, as far as I know. As the day went on, I got the gist of their intentions: selfies at the museum. Argh. So rather than an art exhibit at the Museum of Human Rights, it turned out to be an art exhibit on Twitter that a few friends—including K Records boss Calvin Johnson—re-tweeted.

And do you know what? I think this was even better than the museum showing the jpegs. The situation gave me a reason to consider our long friendship with Calvin—our shared concerns that go beyond bands and sound recordings to human rights, and a continued consideration of whatever comes up in front of us as a viable method to transmit thought in whatever form it takes—from cassettes to tweets!

If you’re so inspired, you can search and re-tweet David Lester’s drawings and posters using #VisitCMHR on March 31, 2015

“Strong White Male” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 318: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

In 2009, Wendy Atkinson (whose three solo experimental bass albums are on Smarten UP!) played with Jandek at his Vancouver appearance. I don’t mean that she opened for him; I mean they played together. He selected her (and several other musicians) to work with.

It was all very exciting and totally out-of-the-blue, but my question was: What would it be like to play with one as uniquely unpredictable as Jandek? Thinking that it might be pretty uncomfortable, I suggested to Wendy that she and I get together a few times to get her warmed up for the show. I volunteered to act like Jandek, and yes, we video-ed the whole thing. Wendy played bass and I played kooky guitar and made up a pile of lyrics on the spot.

Anyway, as you can see I’ve gone and made the release of Wendy Atkinson’s new album The Last Fret all about me. What kind of person am I?

You can “Like” Wendy Atkinson’s Facebook page or “Like” the newly overhauled Smarten Up! & Get to the Point Editions page … I mean, you don’t have to choose … there’s plenty of Dave to go around … oops, I mean … she’s no Yoko Ono … I mean, she actually is, but not in that way …

OMG. I’ll stop now.

“Trapped Against” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 317: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I recently photographed the 21 pages of Hot Pink — the history of a situation (chapbook, fiction, Smarten UP!, 1987) and posted them on the Smarten UP & Get To The Point Editions Facebook page. It’s legible on my monitor if I crank it up to 250 or 300 percent.

Hot Pink was an extension of song lyrics I wrote for the Mecca Normal album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989). The story is (in part) about Joelle, whose boyfriend is around two corners watching TV while Joelle is in the kitchen washing dishes. The frying pan comes out of the water and hits the wall with all the energy and the history of the situation.

Nearly 30 years later, I’m still writing fiction that finds its way into and out of Mecca Normal songs.

“Engine Rain” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 316: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Grand Announcement!! We’ve revealed the name of the mysterious figure in the Mecca Normal video “What’s Your Name?” It’s none other than solo bass player Wendy Atkinson, whose new album The Last Fret is on Smarten UP! & Get To The Point.

Wendy also plays bass in Horde Of Two (also on Smarten UP!) with her husband David Lester (of Mecca Normal).

OK, OK … so Dave and Wendy went on vacation to Cuba, and I used Dave’s footage of Wendy walking through the streets of Havana to make a Mecca Normal video. That’s just how we do things around here.

“Flashlight” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 315: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Back in July of 2014 we played a handful of shows between Vancouver and Portland, the first of which was in a small boat! This set includes the debut of “Anguish/Misogyny,” which we’ve played quite a few times since, but have yet to record and release.

“Clatter” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 314: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

The winter 2015 issue of Geist magazine features an article by Connie Kuhns called “Strange Women” about Vancouver’s music scene in the 1970s—”a time when it was a radical concept to claim a musical space for women, when coming out as a feminist was a daring admission … ”

On page 45, there’s a reference to the singer in the Moral Lepers meeting David Lester in Vancouver after she’d seen his “large, colorful” Emma Goldman poster “in every single anarchist squat in London.” Currently (nearly 40 years later), David is working on a graphic novel about Emma Goldman’s life in Toronto, where she died in 1940. I made a video about the storyline of the new book. Mostly I made the video because he’s the kind of person who works on his projects with such intensity that I’d never get to see the guy if I didn’t barge in with a project of my own. Interviewing him on video.

Before the Emma Goldman book comes out, his fantastic comic The Battle Of Ballantyne Pier will be published in 2016 in a compendium of labor-related graphics. David created the Ballantyne Pier project as a challenge within a set amount of time. I was totally amazed with the excellent drawing and the fact that he put the whole thing together in some crazy amount of time—like five days or something. While mere mortals are catching a movie or tidying up the garage, he created this 12-page comic about his grandfather’s experiences during a time of labor strife on Vancouver’s waterfront in 1935.

“Drilling” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 313: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Imagine Picasso and Dora Maar on a panel discussing surrealism, let’s say. Someone asks Pablo—”What’s it like living with another artist?” Not that I can really imagine that coming up in 1930-whatever. What would Pablo have felt and how would he have responded? I tend to think he would have diminished her and her work. I think he would have described her as his lover, confidante, subject, muse, but I doubt he would have taken the opportunity to express his enthusiasm for her work and his respect for her as an artist. Did he actively encourage her creative impulses as she evolved? Did Pablo consider Dora’s work with an eye toward a new reality where women were regarded as the creative geniuses they are and not the models, muses and playthings for egotistical men? I can’t quite see that.

Any thoughts on this? Or any other male/female artist pairings?

“Once” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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