Video / PHOTOS

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

A brief history of Mecca Normal in TV news clips and live footage to give background and context to Jeans Smith’s ongoing $100 painting series.

“I made this for Dan Seward’s Bunnybrains event during TBA: 16  at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) 511 Gallery in Portland, Oregon on September 15, 2016.” – Jean Smith

Part of Makeup on Empty Space, curated by Kristan Kennedy. Co-presented with PNCA’s 511 Gallery & Director of Center for Contemporary Art and Culture, Mack McFarland.


Mecca Normal‘s “Man Thinks Woman” (1987) was included in Pitchfork’s story of feminist punk in 33 songs with a great write-up by Douglas Wolk on August 8, 2016.

“Mecca Normal break rules like they never noticed them in the first place. The Vancouver-based duo of singer Jean Smith and guitarist David Lester are anarchist-feminist activists and constant experimentalists, implying a rhythm section with negative space alone. Always an intense presence onstage, they’ve become the most tenacious of D.I.Y. road warriors, touring and recording for 32 years now. In the early ’90s, they popped up on most of the biggest American indie-rock labels (Sub Pop, K, Matador); by their 25th anniversary, they were on the road with a performance-and-lecture project called “How Art & Music Can Change the World.”

Smith’s lyrics often foreground her political perspective; their anthem “Man Thinks ‘Woman,'” released in 1987, started out as a barbed dissection of gender normativity: “Man thinks ‘woman’ when he talks to me/Something not quite right.” The song kept expanding its radius from there, encompassing both bitter poetics and a disarmingly funny account of a drunken makeout gone weird. Kathleen Hanna has cited Smith as an early inspiration: “When I saw her,” she told The Fader, “I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” – Douglas Wolk



Jean Smith reading at LitQuake, San Francisco, October 10, 2012. “Odele’s Bath” is a section from “The Black Dot Museum of Political Art” (literary fiction by Jean Smith). “Odele’s Bath” is also a Mecca Normal song (recorded by KRAMER in Miami Beach in November, 2012).

Jean Smith Writer page.

Jean Smith holding self-portrait at the Vancouver Public Library

Jean Smith speaking at the Vancouver Public Library about the self-portrait series she has maintained since 1973.

Jean Smith and David Lester at the Vancouver Public Gallery

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester) performing at the Vancouver Art Gallery in front of paintings by Jack Shadbolt, 2009.