Normal History Vol. 731: 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.

Speaking of subversive, I’ll walk you down the plank, away from pirates, over to a surprising development in my sphere. New York magazine included one of my paintings in a photo of a fancy apartment wall. My painting stood out in the group of 10 or so pieces, and my name was in the caption. Me being me, I almost immediately wrote and sent a sort of pitch press release slash pitch to the editor of the style section. Of course, I had to include a link to the article in the New York Times Magazine (2021), which has that somewhat contentious headline that I don’t really think was even part of the two-hour interview I did.

“The Painter Subverting Art-World Economics, $100 at a Time” wouldn’t be every style editor’s idea of a concept to follow up on. Thing is, I don’t give the Art World much thought, let alone do I have a specific intention to subvert its economics. That sounds like a big job. I have other fish to fry, such as getting the Free Artist Residency For Progressive Social Change up and running. Therein lies another contentious phrase: progressive social change. The job title “style editor” does not smack of anti-capitalist ambitions.

Additionally, it feels almost futile to reject the idea of my paintings being lumped in with interior decoration concerns. Depicting women’s emotions in non-specific portrait paintings with the intention to sell them for a price many musicians, painters, writers, teachers and librarians can afford so that I can ultimately open a free artist residency is entirely different motivation than figuring out framing options, but this is a bit of a losing battle. Avast. Ahoy. I’m more process and goal driven. Whether my paintings end up on a wall in a house, gallery or museum doesn’t hold as much interest.

“The Dark Side Of Maria” from The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):