1990 photo shoot NYC

While in NYC in 1990, on tour with the album “Water Cuts My Hands” (LP on K Records, CD on Matador) Pat Blashill photographed us in Tompkins Square Park for a Village Voice article by Jen Fleissner.

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NYT Magazine

Jean Smith $100 USD paintings

In the January 10th edition of the New York Times Magazine, in a column called Letter of Recommendation, writer Nick Marino delves into my history with Mecca Normal, my $100 USD paintings with a mention of the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change.

FOLLOW me on FaceBook to see $100 USD paintings posted for sale daily.

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David Lester’s 2020 list

David Lester‘s (annual) Self-Referential Top 25 Highlights (and disappointments) of 2020

1. Short doc on my work as a graphic novelist for CBC TV series Art Exhibitionists. Directed by Rami Katz, with cinematography by Devan Scott. Thanks also to CBC Arts producer / artist, Lucius Dechausay.

2. Signed a contract with Beacon Press to adapt Marcus Rediker’s book about pirates, *Villains of All Nations,* as a graphic novel (with Marcus and Paul Buhle).

3. Mecca Normal managed to play a show (just before the pandemic hit) at the Field House Artist Residency (Vancouver Tiny House Concert Number 1). Thanks to the dedicated Lisa Marr.

4. My first zoom experience is with a University of Toronto class, “Power, Resistance, and the Graphic Novel,” about the making of “1919.” Thanks to Professor Max Mishler.

5. California’s Shrimper Records will release the next Horde of Two (Wendy Atkinson Experimental Bass Player and me) album in 2021.

6. Completion of “Prophet Against Slavery, Benjamin Lay: A Graphic Novel” with the fabulous Marcus Rediker and Paul Buhle (coming out on Beacon Press, Fall, 2021).

7. “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg Strike” is co-winner of the 2020 CAWLS ACETS Book Prize (Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies). Congrats Julia Smith, Sean CarletonRobin FolvikKara Sievewright and Between The Lines.

8. Rolling Stone magazine feature on Riot Grrrl with a playlist of 23 songs including Mecca Normal’s “I Walk Alone.”

9. “1919” is used in courses at the University of the Fraser Valley, University of Winnipeg, Mount Royal University (Calgary) and the University of Toronto.

10. The thrill of hearing Jean interviewed on CBC’s q by Tom Power about her painting. Mecca Normal’s “Art Was the Great Leveller” and “I Walk Alone” are broadcast.

11. In the spirit of 1919, me and the Graphic History Collective donate our CAWLS Book Prize money to striking Winnipeg workers (Winnipeg School Division bus drivers and Stella’s restaurant workers) represented by UFCW Local 832.

12. New edition of Celebrate People’s History: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution (The Feminist Press), includes my poster of Paul Robeson.

13. “1919” is shortlisted for the George Ryga Prize for Social Awareness in Literature.

14. Completed #600 in our weekly column in MAGNET Magazine (thanks Eric Miller). The column is an online collaboration (text & art) with Jean Smith.

15. Seeing an impressive feature film version of ‘Ridge’ (about a battle during World War One), that my partner Wendy Atkinson programmed as part of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts‘ dot com series. It was filmed in 3 days in nooks and crannies all over The Chan. The Globe & Mail picked it as a “favourite of the year.”

16. Completing 3/4 of my graphic book on Emma Goldman.

17. Jean’s continued recognition for her painting with interviews by artist / writer Kross D Kross D; The Art Newspaper; The Tyee (by novelist Kevin Chong); and for The New York Times Magazine (to be published Jan. 10, 2021).

18. Pages of “1919” featured in Provins Literary Magazine (Sweden). The pages were selected by Swedish cartoonist/illustrator Mats Jonssons.

19: Mecca Normal’s “Throw Silver” is a K Records song of the Day on Spotify.

20. More positive reviews of “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg Strike”.

21. And… most exciting….bearing witness to the INCREDIBLE response to Jean’s paintings. An overwhelming, stunning achievement on her part, and art.

DISAPOINTMENTS (thanks Covid):

22. Pacific northwest shows with Bikini Kill (cancelled, but they are re-scheduled for 2021). Urgh. 

23. Invite to the Frankfurt Book Fair (cancelled).

24. Invite to speak at a symposium on Emma Goldman at the University of Toronto (cancelled).

25. My poster design/art (climate change theme) for the 15th annual Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival (cancelled). 


David Lester’s political art

First appearing in Normal History, the weekly Mecca Normal collaboration column of music, art and writing for Magnet Magazine. Currently at Vol. 612.

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Drawings from Two of David Lester’s Forthcoming Graphic Novels

Don Jail cell, 1940 (Ontario). One of the last drawings for David Lester’s graphic novel about Emma Goldman.

 “Prophet against Slavery”, about Benjamin Lay illustrated by David Lester (Beacon Press, 2021). 

Jean Smith paintings

“Follow” me on FaceBook to see new paintings daily.

All sales above my $1000 USD monthly expenses go towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change.

LARGE “Pioneer of Aviation #42″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile) $600 USD SOLD

LARGE “Chocolate #8″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile) $600 USD SOLD

LARGE “Angry Woman in Rock #38″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile) $600 USD SOLD


Evelyn McDonnell’s Book Notes

In her own words, here is Evelyn McDonnell’s Book Notes entry for her memoir, Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll:

“Some people fantasize about who will play them in the movie of their life. I think about the soundtrack. Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll is as much about my lifelong obsession with pop, punk, funk, rock, hip-hop, R&B, etc., as it as about my long odyssey to parenthood.

The first playlist I came up with, of songs that were mentioned in or captured a mood or moment of the book, had more than 100 tracks. (I gave it to the DJ who’s spinning at my Feb. 16 [2007] launch party in Miami; you can also see it at http://www.mamaramabook.com.) Then I honed it down to the essentials: 50. Finally I got brutal. Below are the tunes that without which, there would be no Mamarama; sometimes, I feel like there would be no me.” — Evelyn McDonnell

1. Mecca Normal, “Narrow”: Jean Smith sets an analogous moral compass as I set out to retrace my life steps.


Bing. Bang. Bong. My 15 minutes of fame

Saturday night, David’s wife Wendy spotted my name on the ticker sign outside the CBC building in Vancouver: “Vancouver artist ditches part-time job, then sells over 1,500 paintings” which is the headline of the CBC story for the interview I did.

Wendy sent me the photo at the end of a very intense day with 800 new FB friends, many with questions about how to buy a painting (ahead of everyone else). The next morning when I woke up, I almost wondered if this was part of a dream.

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CBC Radio interview

This excerpt from the CBC Radio story connects music and art in a way that… I’m glad I thought of!

Jean “Smith says at first, the $100 USD price tag [on her paintings] was a relatively arbitrary decision. But once she realized how grateful people with limited means were to be able to buy quality art, she decided to keep the price where it is.

“It’s a continuation of Fugazi shows being $5, or Beat Happening always playing all-ages shows. And those were things to ponder: Why would they do that? Why wouldn’t they put their prices up? Why wouldn’t they want a bigger audience and play for other people? Well, those are political decisions to create art for the accessibility aspect,” says Smith. “It energizes the whole project. I get to paint every day.” – CBC Radio story written by Jennifer Van Evra

And I love the headline of the story!

Vancouver artist ditches part-time job, sells over 1,500 paintings

“No Hat #958″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) SOLD
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Video: David Lester graphic novelist

In the new 10-minute CBC video by filmmaker Rami Katz, “you’ll see David Lester take you through his intricate process of illustrating this notable protest [Winnipeg General Strike, 1919] and the challenge of depicting historic figures and events with contemporary urgency.” -from the CBC article by Lucius Dechausay


A scene from David Lester’s ‘1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike’.

“Recurring themes of social justice are at the heart of David Lester’s drawings and prevalent in two of his upcoming graphic novels. The first centres on the last year of the life of anarchist, political activist and writer Emma Goldman, who died in 1940; the second is about Benjamin Lay, a radical Quaker who fought against slavery in the 18th century. In choosing to tell Goldman’s story right now, Lester is profoundly interested in depicting how she maintained her commitment to her ideals even though she would never live to see them realized.” – CBC article by Lucius Dechausay 

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