Normal History Vol. 381: 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 32-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

London-based artist Hew Locke was at the Miami artist residency while I was there for the month of February in 2013. He was in town on official Art World business, and I was painting fiendishly in the main room of the house with all these professional, Art World artists coming and going. Lovely people, but it was somewhat terrifying to be exposed like that. All in all, it was a grand time!

It’s great listening to Hew speak about how he designed the London Tube Map cover. It’s a beauty!

I had a very interesting exchange with Hew at the artist residency. There I was, day after day, painting the No Coal series while various artists walked past my table and out the back door to talk, eat, smoke and/or drink in the back yard. Other than art school (in the late 1970s), I’ve always painted alone. To me, it’s a private thing best done in solitude—let alone that these were all professional artists with gallery representation, accountants, etc.—their work is collected by actual museums, for God’s sake!

I just kept painting.

There was an open studio event planned where various Miami collectors and art lovers would arrive to meet the Art World artists. I decided to participate, even though it was basically for the Art World artists, but there I was in the middle of things with a bunch of finished paintings, so I decided to hang them on the wall for the open studio night. At some point, Hew came through the room, and we got to talking. I explained that the paintings were done by Martin Lewis, a character in my novel The Black Dot Museum Of Political Art and that I’d also just recorded an album with segments from that novel turned into songs that I sing. Hew was quite excited by all this, saying he’d never heard of anything like it—paintings by character in a novel and an album, all connected. It was a thrill for me that he was genuinely intrigued by the additional information I gave him. It’s complicated to explain—especially when I start talking about my imaginary friends, etc. Plus, it has been years in the making; the culmination of which has not yet arrived.

Update on the elements: After several rounds of revisions, my literary agent decided the novel wasn’t for her, but it has been submitted to other agents and is being considered by an independent publisher. I’m hanging onto the dozen or so No Coal paintings I did in Miami for exhibition events when the novel is published. The album Empathy For The Evil came out in 2014 … 2015, really. The Black Dot Museum of Political Art itself functions online, but I am still trying to figure out how to launch a bricks-and-mortar version of it based on the novel and my time in Miami.

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