Normal History Vol. 727: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, 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 40-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

For the past few years, since my painting sales took off, there’s been way less Mecca Normal in my monitors. Painting sales and the general lay of the land while the pandemic lingers on.

I certainly haven’t needed to go looking for publicity for the paintings. I can’t keep up with demand for the small ones, even now, as sales slow with the economy. The timing seems good for there to be new articles in the works.

A German art magazine contacted me asking for photos of paintings, then the writer emailed questions. It seemed like she wasn’t particularly clued-in to my history. She asked, “Do you consider the whole project as one big conceptual art piece that will keep on living in the form of the artist residency?”

When journalists ask questions phrased like this, it can mean this is what they want to say in the article. They might be hoping to verify their statement. I was kind of surprised that my reply seemed to stitch together 50 years of action quite seamlessly. “That I have decided to bequeath the property to a cultural activist group (yet to be named) is the culmination of the work I’ve done since I started painting self-portraits in my bedroom at age 13. It is both conceptual and tactile to, at age 63, evaluate the miles travelled to play shows (1984-2020 when the pandemic halted live music) that encourage women to start bands with their friends to sing about issues that are important to them. Add to this the sheer volume of paintings of women’s faces sold to people around the world, and the physical nature of a facility where artists keen to address social justice issues will stay and work for free.”

“To Avoid Pain” from The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):