Monthly Archives: May 2016

Jean Smith Portrait Paintings video

Paintings from my ongoing $100 series strung together in a video with me talking (somewhat abstractly) about being the daughter of very emotional (volatile) painters. Featuring my thoughts on an early introduction to the concept of quality, the importance of art, and my indoctrination into believing that paintings are about human interactions (if not themselves essentially part of those same interactions).

$100 Paintings Still Available

This monologue touches on my early indoctrination into “the emotional realms of painting”. The paintings featured are from my recent, ongoing series of $100 paintings “The Hat”, “No Hat”, “Angry Woman in Rock”, “Kabuki”, and “The Singer”.

It all started with “The Hat” series in January, 2016. I posted the first one on my FaceBook page and it sold that same day. Hours later, someone was offering me money in advance for the next one! Since then, paintings in this series have been purchased by painting instructors from the University of British Columbia and the Art Institute of Chicago, a painter whose work was exhibited in the Whitney Biennial, 2014 in New York City, and by a critic for Artfourm Magazine.

Paintings from this series are posted by month on Jean Smith Artist and on FaceBook

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David Lester interview on CBC radio

“Comics are a form of social activism,” says graphic novelist David Lester in a GREAT interview with the CBC’s Sheryl MacKay about “The Battle of Ballantyne Pier” — David’s contribution to the anthology Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle.

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All Albums

All Mecca Normal’s albums (except the most recent one) are somewhat-secretly archived, chronologically, song-by-song in Normal History the weekly column David Lester and Jean Smith collaborate on for Magnet Magazine.



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Email Exchange

In an email exchange between David and I this morning, he offered to pick up the paper that my painting empire is built on, but which seems to have been discountinued and is out of stock everywhere.
Me: “Have I mentioned lately that you are THE BEST best friend ever!!!!?”
David: “What would our worlds look like without the comradeship we share, and over such a long time? I take great inspiration from all the work you do, and of course your humour.”
David and I have worked together on many projects since we met in 1981 at ages 21 (me) and 22 (him). I couldn’t ask for a better collaborator and friend.
This September it will 35 years ago that we met.

A letter of high praise

On FaceBook, John Brodeur commented on David Lester’s recent illustration for the cover of the summer 2016 issue of BC History Magazine.

“Just beautiful – stunning, in fact,” he wrote, to which David replied, “Wow! Thanks John!”

But the exchange didn’t end there. John sent David this private message.

Hi David,

I hope you don’t mind that I chose not to respond publicly – I realized that my response to your post was very enthusiastic, and replying to your generous response publicly might have come across as insincere and/or as kissing up to a celebrity friend. Insincerity would be an insult to your artistry, even if it was only in the perceptions of people who would have seen my post.

The truth of the matter, though, is this: I’ve enjoyed your music for a long time. And I’m grateful to you for accepting my friend-request, given that Facebook friends who’ve never actually met MUST come across as sycophantic to some degree. I’ve tried to guard against that by viewing the few requests I make as expressions of gratitude for the good energy those people have put into the world. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel some fear, or reluctance, about being perceived as a celebrity collector.

As much as I’ve benefited from listening to and experiencing your music, your visual art has struck me even more strongly. When I was in my 20s, I remember having a similarly strong response to the sculpture of Henry Moore. Until seeing your work, I thought for sure that that response (which I can’t yet describe adequately) would remain singular. I’ll work on understanding and articulating the response because it’s my nature to do so, but I hope to be open to the possibility/probability that I’ll simply have to be comfortable with ambiguity.

If my response ultimately defies articulation, I’m happy (and truthfully, made better) for having been moved by your work. It is, in and of itself, a GOOD.

It shouldn’t go without saying thank you for that. You’ve put a lot of good energy into a world that sorely needs it.

Always warmly,
John Brodeur
Director of Carolina Leadership Development, associate director of the Carolina Union and a clinical instructor in education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hi John,

What can I say but thanks for your words expressed so eloquently. I never really know what to say to people whose work I like (its always somewhat awkward). But I’m sure it’s a good thing that we make the effort. Funny you mention Henry Moore, I was just listening to a BBC documentary the other night by his daughter on what it was like to grow up with Henry as your father. She admired him greatly. Anyways, thanks again, your words of support matter, especially in what seems like a particularly heartless time.


David also asked John for permission to include his letter in our archives.

John replies:

Wow, David! Thank you for that kindness. Please feel free to use my words however you see fit. I’m honored to know they touched you and Jean in some positive way.

I truly do believe that the work you both do is important. Art–whether painting or lithography or music or whatever else–is more than ‘entertainment.’ It inspires the mind and heals wounds. And it’s such a clear rebuke against our unregulated capitalistic world that the Biebers and J-Los are considered artistic pinnacles.

Complimenting your work is honest, which feels good to be, and expressing it is a fulfillment of my basic responsibilities as a decent human being. Again, I’m honored to know my thoughts affected you positively.

Thankful for this connection,


David Lester’s illustration for the cover of the summer issue of British Columbia History, a magazine that has been publishing since 1923.


David Lester works in a similar style for his contribution to the recently published Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle an anthology of comics on Canadian labour history produced for the Graphic History Collective.Ballantine

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