Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 264: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage, a novel by Jean Smith

If Frank saw a hint of displeasure that the evening’s protagonist was going to be a heavy drinker, he’d rush to the end and describe Pollack’s tragic death so fast it would make anyone’s head spin if they were paying attention—and Carol was paying attention, and she laughed to prove it. Pollack would be driving off the road and Carol would be laughing, not at Pollack, but at Frank as he turned on a dime to talk about Pollack’s wife, Lee Krasner, an influential painter in her own right. Frank kept watching Carol’s reactions, and the story would continue like so. In this way, they built it together.

“Attraction Is Ephemeral,” from The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 263: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage, a novel by Jean Smith

The stories Frank tells Carol utilize his ability to improvise with an amazing degree of creativity. If, for instance, Frank started a story about Jackson Pollack and described him as a heavy drinker, he’d see how that registered across the table, on Carol’s face, in whichever quiet café they were sitting in after visiting a museum or before a night of jazz somewhere mysterious that Frank had found, that he couldn’t wait to show her.

“I’m Not Into Being The Woman You’re With While You’re Looking For The Woman You Want,” from The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 262: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Poking around in his childhood room, Frank pulls out his collection of atlases and books of aerial photography. Perfect, he thinks. He also wants a small selection of paintings—both parents’ paintings—work that hadn’t sold. Frank knows the paintings well. Julia’s homey winter scenes, predecessors to her critically acclaimed winter scenes at night, where figures walked assertively across snowy moonlit fields, presumably back in Iowa, where she grew up. Something about men striding through a dark landscape resonated with art-buyers baffled by the abstract expressionism of the day.

Among his father’s paintings is Pointy White Mountain. Frank chuckles at the now-distant memory of giving his father’s paintings their titles, how this one hadn’t sold because there was no white in it. The gallery owner had sent it back before Gordon’s show, unwilling to hang it unless Gordon added a token amount of white to the pinks and oranges flanked by the grays of sky and sea.

“I am not inclined to do any such thing,” Gordon bellowed into the phone. “I am the artist and I will call my god-damned paintings anything I god-damn well want to. I’ll call the next one Gallery Owner With His Head Up His Ass if I feel like it.”

Frank, pressed up against the wall in the living room, didn’t understand that Gordon’s anger came from the fear of anyone finding out that he had no idea what the titles of his paintings referred to, what the titles meant.

“Convince Yourself,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 261: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Excerpt from Obliterating History – a guitar making mystery, domination and submission in a small town garage , a novel by Jean Smith

When Frank calls a painting Pointy White Mountain, Gordon has to ask, “White mountain, Frank? What am I missing?”

Frank, sitting in the director’s chair in Gordon’s studio, shrugs and says, “I forget.”

For all the hoopla surrounding Gordon Sheldon MacLean, the brilliant young art director at O&M and promising new abstract painter, one important fact about him remains unknown – except to Julia and then to his son Frank, in whom Gordon confides, drunkenly waking him up to ramble at him after coming home late from the Hickory House.

To his eternal consternation and shame, Gordon Sheldon MacLean has no mind’s eye. He is officially a fraud.

“Ice Floes Aweigh,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 260: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Excerpt from Obliterating History – a guitar making mystery, domination and submission in a small town garage, a novel by Jean Smith

Gordon can never think of any good titles for his paintings, while Frank has a seemingly endless supply to offer. Maybe it isn’t the actual title per se, thinks Gordon. Maybe he just likes how Frank sees his work. To Gordon, they’re decorative panels, but the gallery staff implores him not to say that. Ever. When potential clients ask about his paintings, they want to know what the paintings represent, what they mean. They wonder if they are supposed to be able to see something in them. Find something. These are the clients Gordon steers clear of at his openings. The ones twisting their heads sideways, both ways, back and forth, all around, trying to find something, while practicing the art of not spilling their drink. There is a lot of sideways head twisting at Gordon’s openings and it makes him nervous, his Hathaway shirt damp under his black suit jacket.

When cornered by gallery staff and herded over to a sale-in-progress to be introduced to a buyer, Gordon, for once in his life, has nothing to say until he can covertly lean in to read the card mounted on the wall, and then, with great theatrical emphasis, he tells the buyer that it’s called Orange Path To Pink Sea or A Dotted Line Divides Them or My Sister is a Big Baby, and while the painting is being reconsidered based on a few words, Gordon slips back to the bar to order another martini and loosen his tie. No one except Gordon and Julia know that a five year old kid is making up the titles.

“No Mind’s Eye,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 259: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

About the painters in Obliterating History – a guitar making mystery, domination and submission in a small town garage, a novel by Jean Smith

Julia MacLean (nee Engman) is the mother of protagonist Frank MacLean. Julia grew up in Iowa, went to drama school there and took up painting, which she maintains after she marries ad agency art director Gordon MacLean and has two children.

Gordon is a painter as well. He does pink and orange abstracts that he allows his son Frank to name. The paintings don’t have a basis in reality until young Frank decides what they depict. This is unnerving to Gordon who claims not to have a mind’s eye. He is convinced that he’s something of a fraud when it comes to his creativity. He believes that Frank’s titles are integral to giving his paintings their value.

Julia paints winter landscapes because her gallerist says they are popular. Gordon believes Julia is embedding the snowy scenes with hunters and providers—the type of men he thinks Julia wishes he was. Julia runs with that idea and begins painting virile male figures striding across snowy fields at night.

“Family Swan,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 258: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I was working on my painting website yesterday when I realized I’d concentrated so much on the paintings in The Black Dot Museum Of Political Art (literary fiction) that I sort of forgot that there are two painters in Obliterating History—a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage. I will begin painting these today.

“I Hear You,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 200) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 257: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Jean Smith’s yet-to-be-published novel Obliterating History—A Guitar-Making Mystery, Domination & Submission In A Small Town Garage

continued from last week

“What’s your last name, Frank?”

“MacLean,” says Frank without missing a beat, giving Veronica what she needs, giving up anonymity to make her feel comfortable. With a woman like her, he doesn’t need to consider if she is worth it or not. She is.

“If I was to look you up, would I find you listed?”

“Yes. Like I said. On Cherry.” Frank’s voice is normal. Matter of fact. “I know you need to trust me. I understand that.”

“I’d like to limit it to a non-sexual situation.”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean, that we won’t have sex. Intercourse. That what we do won’t include penetration or oral sex.”

Frank sips his tea and considers the concept in a way that he hadn’t anticipated; she’s right, they will need to create a structure and adhere to it, otherwise the flood of images in his mind will hinder them. If Veronica relinquishes control, he needs to know, in all seriousness, what that means to her, where her limits are. He must stay within them to avoid disaster. Some of this has been gleaned through his research earlier that day, but as he visualizes what may happen next, he understands that he doesn’t want to be entirely responsible, that he cannot be. Veronica needs to say what she wants to have happen. Veronica is actually in control.

“In January,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 256: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Jean Smith’s yet-to-be-published novel Obliterating History—A Guitar-Making Mystery, Domination & Submission In A Small Town Garage

continued from last week

“I was looking at women in New York because I wanted to meet someone more interesting. I saw your photo and you looked so robust. It was like you were daring me to say something to you. You’re a solid, entirely complete human, and more than a little intimidating, but I wanted to know you.”

“And the bra? How does that figure into it?”

“It gave me an impression of your breasts being bound and by saying that, I know I risk a negative reaction, but I’ll continue,” Frank says, looking down at Veronica’s large breasts underneath her black cashmere cardigan.

“I would like to use a length of soft white rope to gently bind you.”

Veronica, aroused by his suggestion, feels her face redden.

“OK,” she says slowly. “So we’re establishing the possibility of a common interest. Have you ever done this before?”

“No,” says Frank. “It has to do with you–and the photo.”

Veronica is turning the square white serviette clockwise on the table, watching the Egg ‘n Nest logo right-side-up and upside down, wondering if it’s Egg in Nest or Egg and Nest.

“Back to my question,” she says, intentionally preoccupied with turning the serviette. “Is there anything else on your profile that isn’t true?”

“I’m married,” Frank says.

Veronica has put a lot of effort into avoiding married men—and liars. Her initial online questions intend to determine the likelihood of either. The two, of course, go hand in hand. Men lie about being married. She will not communicate with men who don’t have photos on their profiles. If a man tells her that he has taken a few years off his age, she moves on. But now she is operating without a compass. Destabilized by the day’s events, sitting with Frank, a man who represents the possibility of experiencing something extremely exciting, Veronica notices that her reactions are different. Perhaps being with a married man is safer, she thinks.

to be continued

“Every Wrong Word,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 200) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 255: 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 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Jean Smith’s yet-to-be-published novel Obliterating History—A Guitar-Making Mystery, Domination & Submission In A Small Town Garage

“Frank,” she says. “This is a bit awkward to bring up, but I was watching you standing at the bar and I couldn’t help but notice that you’re not six feet tall.” Having already established that he lied about his age on his profile, Veronica is now more interested in Frank’s reaction when confronted. Will he get defensive? Will he blow up and blame her for making something out of nothing?

“Is that going to be a problem for you, Veronica?” Frank asks, maintaining his composure. Proceeding, Frank knows, requires trust, the trust that he has already jeopardized by misrepresenting himself. “I mean it. Do you think you can trust me?”

“I don’t want to confuse my wanting to trust you with believing what you tell me,” Veronica says. “If there are any other things on your profile that aren’t true, now would be the time to tell me and then we can see where things stand.”

“I created my profile for the purpose of meeting women to have sex with. Plain and simple. In those moments, clicking various boxes, I made decisions based on my objective. I wasn’t expecting to meet someone like you. I wasn’t intending to meet anyone remotely like you.”

“And did you meet women and have sex?”

“Yes.”

“And what about me? What about my profile made you think I was a viable candidate for a one night stand?” Veronica asks, crossing her arms.

“Nothing,” Frank says. “You’re a whole different thing.”

“How so?”

“I met women for sex and I became frustrated with that. I mean, come on. Look where we are. Who do you think I’m meeting here?”

“I can only imagine,” says Veronica, looking over at the guys at the jukebox, aluminum beer cans accumulating between them.

to be continued

“Revolution#Pine,” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

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