Normal History Vol. 417: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

After a woman named Beth saw Facebook photos of the studio visit with Tom Anselmi (formerly of Slow, Copyright and MIRROR) and a painter friend of his buying my paintings, she wanted to come over, too. She messaged me in the middle of a convo with another interested party, an entrepreneur who, along with Tom, has ideas for selling my paintings in L.A.

I decided to schedule both studio visits on the same day. The entrepreneur at 11:30 a.m. and Beth and her husband Bob at noon. I figured half an hour would be almost enough for the entrepreneur and then Beth and Bob would arrive, and if the entrepreneur was a serial killer, I’d grab the intercom and buzz Beth and Bob in and they would save me. Right? Fiction writer here.

But then the entrepreneur messaged asking if a little after 1:00 p.m. was OK. I said sure, but not without wondering how I was gonna avoid being killed since now Beth and Bob were scheduled to arrive first. I wondered about telling Beth (who I’d never met) that I was a bit concerned about the entrepreneur arriving and maybe she and Bob could stay a bit longer, to make sure he wasn’t a serial killer, but then I got a message from her saying they were canceling because of the snow! At that point it seemed like the three of them were working together to make sure I was dead by dusk. One way or the other.

Shortly after the cancellation message, Beth messaged again saying they’d take the bus, but, as it turned out they were somewhat late and then we got talking about punk shows from a million years ago. By 12:55 p.m. Beth had only looked at half of the paintings. I realized that the entrepreneur was going to arrive before she’d made a decision. All three people were going to be in this small room at the same time.

The buzzer rang. I encouraged Beth and Bob to take their time and everything would be fine. I went downstairs to open the door for the entrepreneur, to explain that the noon customers were still here. Once we got up to the deck, he said he’d wait outside. I stood out there for a few minutes, periodically looking in at Beth’s progress. Paintings in each hand, paintings being set down, picked up, piles being made, but there was one painting that seemed to be staying in her right hand. The entrepreneur looked in the window and said, “Is that the one I want?”

“Shit,” I said, recalling that he had in fact mentioned a particular one, but because he was originally coming over first, I didn’t pull it. Damn. I explained this to him and we waited. The painting didn’t leave Beth’s hand. Damn.

When the entrepreneur and I came inside through the sliding glass door, Beth had three of them propped up in a chair. It appeared to be her final decision. Including the one in question. No Hat #124, which was painted and posted for sale two months ago.

I apologized to Beth for not taking it out. I explained how the switch in appointment time affected this error. I felt the painting was being held for the entrepreneur and it was my mistake for not pulling it.

Beth found another painting, making an even stronger group of three, and they left happy (after I’d invited myself over for dinner to deliver the one painting that still needs a layer of gloss on it). She has since contacted me wanting to buy three more for a total of six, which ties the record of paintings sold to one buyer!

“Fight For A Little” from the album Mecca Normal (Smarten UP!, 1986; reissued by K, 1995) (download):