There’s something about these three together.

The Scarf #12 800
“The Scarf #12″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

no hat #530 800
“No Hat #530″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat #525 800

“No Hat #525″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.


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Video: Introduction

We have the evidence! Political art can change the world!


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New Mecca Normal Album: Live in Montreal, 1996


Mecca Normal live in Montreal, 1996
LP, CD, download (extra tracks on BandCamp)

Jean Smith – vocals
David Lester – guitar
Peter Jefferies – drums

Release: March 22, 2019

Irritated by the standard four-guys-on-stage scene in the early 1980s, Mecca Normal – Jean Smith and David Lester – formed their voice-and-guitar duo with one thing on their mind. Changing the world. Weirdly, they succeeded. Frequently cited as an inspiration to the co-founders of Riot Grrrl, Smith regularly spoke from the stage between songs in the 80s and 90s, encouraging women in the audience to form bands of their own, and a few key figures did just that. “Jean Smith was really poetic and had feminist ideas at the core of a lot of her songs and she wasn’t ashamed of it. And when I saw her, I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill (The Fader, 2010)

For a few years in the 90s, Vancouver’s Mecca Normal headlined (and sometimes sold out) shows on the west coast and in the Northeastern USA, yet, until now, there hasn’t been a live album. For a brief time in the mid-90s, New Zealander Peter Jefferies (Nocturnal Projections) was on drums. Known for the intensity of their live shows, this one borders on incendiary. Recorded at The Cabaret, a beautiful little theatre in Montréal, Québec on April 16, 1996 for later broadcast on CBC’s Brave New Waves, Smith’s unparalleled delivery of songs about injustice is viscerally enmeshed with Lester’s furious guitar. As for the drums… while there is wisdom in not allowing romantic partners in a band, that tension had been intensified after the couple in question started a new band (2 Foot Flame on Matador) while living in New Zealand. “Maybe it’s just me, but I figure the guitar and the drums are both trying to get the last word, while I felt I needed to elevate my performance to justify the drama,” Smith recently divulged about the show.

In 2016, Mecca Normal opened three shows for The Julie Ruin (Bikini Kill members) at which Kathleen Hanna said from the stage: “Their music is still as relevant as it was 25 years ago when I first saw them. It makes me happy that their music is still relevant because they’re doing it better than ever. And their new songs are so fucking great and hilarious.”

Jean and David’s incredible creative partnership continues, but its focus is currently visual art. Lester’s graphic novel about the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is out now, and Smith has sold over 600 of her ‘$100 USD brand’ paintings on FaceBook.

Mecca Normal’s long-running association with the CBC’s Brave New Waves included many interviews as well as songs recorded by Kevin Komoda at DNA Studios in Montréal. Mecca Normal’s Brave New Waves session is released on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. The digipak CD comes with a short interview with Brent Bambury, as well as bonus cuts from the CBC archive. Released on Toronto-based Artoffact Records.

PRE-ORDERS / limited edition

0001 crop 1200 NO TEXT

Limited edition 12″ vinyl on see-thru green wax with insert of Jean Smith’s $100 USD paintings

1. Water Cuts My Hands
2. Prize Arm
3. Don’t Shoot
4. Tower Island
5. Revival of Cruelty
6. The Dogs
7. Drive At / Peach-a-Vanilla
8. Ribbon
9. Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone
10. Armchairs Fit through Doorways
11. Are You Hungry Joe?

Limited edition digipak CD with bonus tracks
1. Water Cuts My Hands
2. Prize Arm
3. Don’t Shoot
4. Tower Island
5. Revival of Cruelty
6. The Dogs
7. Drive At / Peach-a-Vanilla
8. Ribbon
9. Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone
10. Armchairs Fit through Doorways
11. Are You Hungry Joe?
12. Crimson Dragnet
13. Brave New Waves CBC interview, 1986
14. You’ll Never Know
15. Black Star
16. Hideous
17. Alibi

MN-poster-in-Montreal-1996-WEB-version CORRECT spelling JEFFERIES.JPG

Patti photo
Peter Jefferies, Jean Smith, Patti Schmidt (Brave New Waves host), David Lester

Mecca Normal 1996 David Lester Jean Smith Peter Jefferies photo by Robert Karpa meccanormal@hotmail

photo: Robert Karpa



The Hat #85 16 x 20 800 a
“The Hat #85″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile).
No Hat #577 16 x 20 800
“No Hat #577″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile).
Bathing Cap 800
“Bathing Cap #5″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile).
Ruff Collar #27 16 x 20 800
“Ruff Collar #27″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile).

No Hat #576 16 x 20 800“No Hat #576″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile).

No Hat #575 16 x 20 800
“No Hat #575″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile). SOLD

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Video: Currently Available

Midway through every month I put together a video of all the $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) available. Music by Mecca Normal.

FaceBook album of $100 USD paintings currently available

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“I Walk Alone” on Better Things

bt 2
“I Walk Alone” as heard on Better Things Season 3 Episode 2 “Holding”, March 7, 2019

Buy “I Walk Alone”

Buy the 11-song album on K Records

“I Walk Alone” is on the NEW Mecca Normal album “Live in Montreal, 1996” (Artoffact Records)
release: March 22
Bandcamp pre-orders

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Video: paintings available

$100 USD portrait paintings available (14 x 11″ acrylic on canvas panel). Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester).

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The Scream vs Ruff Collar



ruff collar #29 800 a

Ruff Collar #25

I didn’t set out to reference “The Scream” by Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch; in fact, “Ruff Collar #25” went through a lot of very different evolutionary stages before I stopped here. This is often the way it goes and one of the great things about painting (the way I paint).

I suppose that until an artist says if a painting is about something specific, it’s a matter of speculation — granted, some speculation is more informed than assumptions made by general viewers. I figure most artists aren’t terribly stuck on various interpretations of their work.

My painting is an addition to the “Ruff Collar” series I began in 2018, in which there aspects of fashion, history, class, and theatre — and against this backdrop, the ever-present knowledge that I am a feminist. That is to say, I bring along the historical context of my work as a cultural activist of the feminist variety, and that tends to be understood because I primarily exhibit my work here on FB, where you know me (or can get to know me). When I paint a woman it is not a man painting a woman.

As an older person who has been making art since the 70s (the portrait series began in 1973), I’ve found that the intensity of context (production and reaction over time) can’t be neatly summed up in an artist statement. So I tend not to write them. Let the young people wrestle with them. Let the Art World deal with them.

A sense of context is also what I consider to be fundamental in contemporary art which I tend to find a bit contrived and too clever, yet I sometimes surprise myself and enjoy the fact that I’ve created something within an existing genre.

No Hat #560 800

No Hat #560

It seems to me that contemporary portraiture is a combination of historically recognizable styles and techniques within one piece that push forward the recognition of a face in one of those styles because of the other styles. Recognition of the human face (not a specific person) relies on the profusion of faces (RL, paintings and photos) that the brain has previously processed. An example of this would be “No Hat #560” (above) — the painting I did yesterday. The position of the features (eyes, nostrils and mouth) are almost photographic, yet semi-obscured (eyes, nostril) and garishly over-painted (lips), but it’s the weird contrast of four simple strokes for the bangs (and several framing the face) that push the face to a strange realism.

Back to “Ruff Collar #25” and how it relates to “The Scream” which, without going back to look or research further, I interpret as a man screaming and I can’t say as I am too curious what he’s screaming about. Looks like fear. Just my impression.

The face in “Ruff Collar #25” is similar to “No Hat #560” in that the layer obscuring the features hints at a realism because of surrounding style — in this case the ruff collar, which is squeezing the face, giving it the shape of “The Scream” yet the mouth is pressed shut in a way that women are very familiar with. The constrictive nature of the collar — and by association fashion, history, class, and the general oppression of women — brings a sense of realism the the face (the woman) obscured beneath the thin layer of paint which represents make-up or a mask which refers to the way women are expected to behave.

Screaming is frowned upon.

“Ruff Collar” series

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Protected: 2 Days on Pender Island

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