April showers bring May flowers, or so they say. The Black Dot Museum, curated by Jean Smith and David Lester of Mecca Normal, took over the walls of Northern for the month of May, bringing together political artists based out of Vancouver, BC. We also celebrated the one year anniversary of Northern in conjunction with the opening. From the press release:
For May, David Lester and Jean Smith of Mecca Normal co-curate a month-long, group exhibit at Northern. “The Black Dot Museum — Political Artists from Vancouver” includes paintings, prints, drawings and comics by David Lester, Jean Smith, Brian Roche and Gord Hill. The opening reception for the artists was Saturday May 1, from 5p – 8p with a Performance by Mecca Normal at 7. This special opening also celebrates Northern’s one year anniversary serving as an all ages art and music venue in beautiful downtown Olympia, Washington.
Biographies provided by the artists:
David Lester is the guitar player in the underground rock duo Mecca Normal (Kill Rock Stars), a painter and graphic designer whose artwork is featured weekly in Magnet Magazine online with text by Mecca Normal singer Jean Smith. In 2009, Mecca Normal celebrated twenty-five years in music, touring their lecture, art and performance event “How Art & Music Can Change the World” based on Lester’s Inspired Agitators poster series. The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism (Arbeiter Ring, 2006) — an astounding collection of comparative statistics compiled by Lester — has been included in university course material in the US and Canada. David Lester’s art appears in the recently published Paper Politics (Soft Skull Press, 2009) as well as Reproduce & Revolt (Soft Skull Press, 2008).
Jean Smith is the singer and lyricist in the literary rock duo Mecca Normal and a two-time recipient of Canada Council for the Arts awards as a professional writer of creative fiction. Jean has two published novels and has, since 1986, released fifteen CDs on Kill Rock Stars, K Records and Matador. Smith’s series of self-portraits from age 13 has been included in several Ladyfest art exhibits. Her paintings are featured in Mecca Normal’s touring lecture event “How Art & Music Can Change the World”. Smith grew up in Vancouver with two abstract parents for painters.
Gord Hill currently lives in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (occupied Coast Salish territory). From the Kwakwaka’wakw nation, with Tlingit and Scottish ancestry, his family lineage includes the Hunt and Scow families. He has lived on reserves and in cities, small towns, and isolated mountain camps, and has been involved in Indigenous and other social movements since 1988, participating in many protests, occupations, and blockades. He is an artist, writer, and carver. Above all, he considers himself a warrior—one who defends his people and territory. Gord is the author and illustrator of The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010).
During the 80s and 90s Brian Roche regularly exhibited his large paintings of various historical figures rubbing elbows with icons of popular culture. An ex-Catholic ranting about atheism and corporatization at dinner parties, he regularly answered the inevitable “but what does it mean?” question about his paintings with “you figure it out.‘ This was all fine, but there comes a time in an artist’s life when, in taking a tally of accomplishments, things don’t add up. At this time, Roche stopped painting. Several years ago, Roche decided to stop living the way he was — a painter not painting is a person not happy. He decided to be happy. His recent return to painting came after discovering that smaller canvases make it possible to complete work in the time after his day job.
Photos of the gallery show and the opening (with a special performance by Janet Pants!) below: