How Art & Music Can Change the World

Classroom and Art Gallery Event

In 2002, How Art and Music Can Change the World was developed as a lecture, art exhibit and performance event for university classrooms, bookstores and community centres. Jean Smith and David Lester of the underground literary rock duo Mecca Normal intend to inspire audiences towards considering political content in their creative self-expression. In 2011, using what they’d learned presenting How Art and Music Can Change the World, Jean Smith created an adaptation of David Lester’s graphic novel The Listener.

Art Exhibit

“Who cares if there’s underground culture or not? Gap-Coke-Sony-Time-Warner satisfies our needs… don’t they?”

Referring to their extraordinary 25 year history in music, art and publishing Jean Smith and David Lester illustrate the reality of being artists and cultural activists, by revealing the behind-the-scenes workings of their long-standing D-I-Y collaboration. Jean and David de-mystify the work methods and philosophies that define their collaborative partnership, touring, writing and publishing, making art and music.

“How Art and Music Can Change The World” combines a seasoned performance-based pedagogy with a raw emotional and lyrical intensity — a culmination (so far) of the rock solid artistic integrity that has made Mecca Normal into an underground legend in its own time. –Ron Sakolsky — a scholar covering the intersection of music, revolution and radio. Read his entire review for Fifth Estate Magazine, spring 2011.


October 2013

Later this month, David Lester’s graphic novel The Listener will be presented at Promoting Social Justice and belonging in the Classroom with Canadian Literature, a three day conference in Edmonton.


Jean Smith is selling vintage clothing on Etsy at Total Score Vintage, CRAZY Mac’s, Estate Sale Vintage and Vintage 604. The 1940s blouse above (modeled and photographed by Jean) is at Estate Sale Vintage.

3772 1000

Read the story behind the Mecca Normal song “Attraction is Ephemeral” on Smashpipe.

Jean Smith ILLO June 15, 2013 1000

Index of Jean Smith’s online dating stories and illustrations for Smashpipe.


Mecca Normal The Observer is now in BandCamp.

Joyland Returns! at the Railway Club in Vancouver, June 9, 2013. Jean Smith reading “Odele’s Bath” – an excerpt from “The Black Dot Museum of Political Art” and a Mecca Normal song. Introduced by Kevin Chong.

New Mecca Normal – “Wasn’t Said” recorded by KRAMER at the Laundry Room in Miami Beach, November, 2012. KRAMER on organ. Video and photos by Jean Smith.

“Odele’s Bath” – live – Radio Active Records, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, November, 2012.

August 2013

"No Coal" by Jean Smith (24 x 24" acrylic on canvas)

“No Coal” by Jean Smith (24 x 24″ acrylic on canvas)

Jean Smith’s paintings from her recently-completed novel The Black Dot Museum of Political Art.

In November, 2012 Mecca Normal went to Florida to record a new album with KRAMER and Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room. During the three days of recording, Mecca Normal performed at Churchill’s in Miami and at Radio Active Records in Fort Lauderdale. On the fourth day, Rat took Jean and Dave to Shorty’s Bar-B-Q.

Jean Smith talks about three series of paintings “by Martin Lewis”, a character in her recently completed novel The Black Dot Museum of Political Art. Take a look at the synopsis or the
press release.

The paintings in the videos above are for sale. Prices include shipping.

Prints available through Saatchi Online.

Rediscovery of Jessica Hopper‘s Chicago Reader review of Mecca Normal 2006 album The Observer, in which Jessica observes that “independent women wind up alone”.


November, 2012

Mecca Normal at Churchill’s Pub in Miami, Florida on November 8, 2012. Recorded and video-ed by Rat Bastard.

San Francisco Public Library, October 10, 2012. “Odele’s Bath” is a section from “The Black Dot Museum of Political Art” (literary fiction, unpublished, complete at 82,000). Jean Smith is seeking a literary agent. “Odele’s Bath” will be recorded by Mecca Normal with KRAMER and Rat Bastard in November. Film by David Lester.


October 2012

West Coast Tour – October 2012

“Pussy Riot” by Jean Smith (20 x 20″ acrylic on canvas) for The Black Dot Museum of Political Art exhibition in Olympia, Washington for the month of September

September 2012 Events 

Vancouver – Saturday, September 8, Waldorf Hotel Mecca Normal opens for Chain & the Gang.

Olympia – Saturday, September 1, Northern: the Olympia All Ages Project 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Opening Reception for The Black Dot Museum of Political Art a month-long exhibition of art by David Lester, Jean Smith

Vancouver – Sunday, September 30, Public Library
Mecca Normal at Word On The Street, presented by CUPE Local 391

October Tour on the West Coast

West Coast Tour Jean Smith and David Lester will be reading from their books, presenting classroom and library events and Mecca Normal will be playing shows.

Olympia – Saturday, October 6, Timberland Library
Performance event: The Listener graphic novel by David Lester – Mecca Normal guitar-player turned author-illustrator. Jean Smith talks about her new novel, Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage. Mecca Normal performs.

Portland – Sunday, October 7, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center with Rebecca Gates and Amenta Abioto

Salem – Monday, October 8, Willamette University,
“How Art & Music Can Change the World” 12:40 p.m. FREE, Montag Den, open to the public

San Francisco – Wednesday, October 10, SF Public Library
Jean Smith and David Lester will both be reading at LitQuake Radar Reading Series.
6:00 p.m. FREE, Latino Reading Room

San Francisco – Wednesday, October 10, Cafe Du Nord
Mecca Normal (9:30) opening for The Corin Tucker Band.

LA – Saturday, October 13, Echo Park Film Center
“How Art & Music Can Change the World”  3:00 p.m. FREE

LA – Saturday, October 13, HRLA
“How Art & Music Can Change the World” and Mecca Normal performance with Emily Lacy, $5, doors at 8:00 p.m.

LA – Monday, October 15, Loyola Marymount University
“How Art & Music Can Change the World” 4:00 p.m. FREE, open to the public

Mecca Normal – Don’t Shoot at What the Heck Fest, 2011

The Listener: A dense and fiercely intelligent work that asks important questions about art, history, and the responsibility of the individual, all in a lyrical and stirring tone.” — Publishers Weekly (New York)

The Listener graphic novel was a finalist for a ForeWord Reviews’ Book Of The Year Award in the graphic novel category.


BUY The Listener graphic novel for $19.95 or less

Photos of Jean Smith’s performance adaptation of The Listener featuring Mecca Normal at Word on the Street in Vancouver, 2011.

In January, 2012, Mecca Normal returned to Kevin Chong’s creative writing class at the University of British Columbia to present Jean’s adaptation of The Listener graphic novel by Mecca Normal’s guitar player David Lester — the most recent version of How Art & Music Can Change the World. A classroom, library and bookstore event.

David Lester book signing event.
University of British Columbia presentation in Kevin Chong’s Creative Writing class.
Short videos about The Listener

David Lester talks about his book.

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester) Anacortes, WA, July, 2011. Judith Baumann photo.

David Lester comments after reading Obliterating Historya guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage, a novel by Jean Smith.

Jean Smith is seeking a literary agent for The Black Dot Museum of Political Art (literary fiction, 82,000 words). Query, synopsis and a ten page sample. New Mecca Normal songs are excerpts from Jean’s two recently completed novels.


The weekly Magnet Magazine series continues. David Lester’s illustration paired with text by Jean Smith – includes a Mecca Normal download. Currently at Vol. 168.



MungBeing online magazine is featuring artwork by David and Jean’s painting, poetry and excerpts from her forthcoming novels Broke Like Me. and Love Wants You. –including Genius Beans, The Entirely Bearable Lightness of Being Single and Shadowing the G-Man. Jean is seeking a literary agent for Love Wants You. — a novel about deception and online dating and deception.

Jean Smith bio on BC BookWorld.


How Art & Music Can Change the World

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