The Black Dot Museum

of Political Art


Jean Smith and David Lester -- the voice and guitar of the literary rock duo Mecca Normal.

About: The museum functions online as an exhibition space, an archive and resource for media, non-profit and commercial interests. The museum also works with existing galleries interested in presenting our group exhibitions. The museum aims to create purposeful context beyond individual artist pages and social networking sites. The museum is being built as an idiosyncratic utopian manifestation of various social philosophies and psychological conditions including feminism, anarchism, capitalism, the norm of reciprocity, guilt, obligation and peer pressure. While important, we aren't focusing on academic and professional achievements. We are interested in creating collaborative partnerships with like-minded cultural activists who see the museum as a method to further their political objectives -- which ideally include building community both online and through group exhibits. We are very keen on considering and employing reciprocity.

The museum's curatorial process is in a formative stage – artists will be contacted if their work is to be included in the museum. Only artists we can accommodate at this time will be contacted. David and I will be selecting art we like, typically by artists with strong histories of organizational and promotional skills. If you are considering submitting artwork, please get a sense of who we are and what we do as Mecca Normal, to determine whether there is an appropriate connection. We're not suggesting that the Black Dot Museum of Political Art is a complete archive of political art.

Submissions: Artists are encouraged to email three jpgs of political art with a brief bio including your location and what sort of art you make. All jpgs must be embedded with this information: Your name, title of work, size of original work, date created.

Jean Smith, "Discovering Utopia" 12 X 16, 2010

All submissions require email contact info and links that illuminate your web and community presence. At this time we are interested in two dimensional art excluding photography. Work should be available to be included in a touring exhibitions. Artists are responsible for shipping costs to and from exhibitions.  

Archives: Art will be archived by the artist's name and by the subject of the artwork. Examples of subject might be -- environmental, feminist, anti-war, labor rights, anti-capitalist, pro-choice.

Connections: The museum aims to connect artists with organizations seeking political art for various purposes. The connection between the artist and the organization will be made beyond museum walls. Any deals made will not involve the museum.

Sponsorship: We are currently seeking web hosting and webmaster/mistress skills.We will be approaching public museums and academic institutions whose logos and link may appear on the museum website. We aim to establish a presence on the websites of those institutions. Ideally there will be events, lectures and exhibitions at these facilitates.

Traffic: Artists are encouraged to actively promote their inclusion in the museum. "Naturally" artists whose work appears in the museum will want to include links to the museum on their websites and outbound promo. Extending enthusiasm to other artists archived in the museum is also encouraged. Traffic will increase as more artists submit their work and promote the museum. We intend to use established publicity methods – sending out press releases to blogs, magazines, journalists and art-and-music related groups.

Advertising: The Clout Agency -- Things Go Better with Clout. The award-winning writing and graphic design team will initiate publicity campaigns aimed at securing exposure while encouraging reciprocity.

History: Jean Smith is a published novelist with two Canada Council for the Arts awards as a professional writer of creative fiction. David Lester is a well-respected professional graphic designer who began his career in 1977 as the art director at Vancouver's Georgia Straight. He is currently the editor and graphic designer at BC BookWorld – a quarterly newspaper devoted to books written or published in British Columbia, Canada.

In 2001, David and Jean began presenting art exhibits, artist talks and Mecca Normal performances on tour. "The Inspired Agitators and the Pantomime Horse" – a play in the form of an art exhibit -- opened at Vancouver's Xeno Gallery and toured in British Columbia, exhibiting at public art museums, cafes and community centres. This developed into How Art & Music Can Change the World – a lecture that Mecca Normal presented on their 25th anniversary tour in 2009. The tour was billed and promoted as 25 Shows in 25 Days in the USA – it included lectures and art exhibits at CalArts, Evergreen State College, Duke University, Nexus Gallery in Philadelphia, Mount Holyoke College, MA, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

David Lester and Jean Smith have twenty-five years experience in organizing, booking and promoting shows and tours. Since 1986 Mecca Normal has released thirteen albums on K Records, Matador, Smarten UP! and Kill Rock Stars.

In 1986 Jean turned her fanzine into a record label to release Mecca Normal's first LP -- since then, Smarten UP! Records has released music on LP, CD, cassette and 7". Their small press Get To The Point has published acclaimed experimental fiction, award-winning poetry and excellent graphic design since 1993.

Jean explains the origin of the Black Dot Museum: "Some years ago I came up with the idea for The Dot Museum as a way to distill the essence of our various enterprises into a container the size of a match box. Small paper "dots" would represent tours, shows, lectures -- information could be passed along anywhere -- open the matchbox and dump the dots on a restaurant table to represent activities. In this way the Dot Museum is with us wherever we are. Black Dot was the imprint I used when I was publishing my fanzine in the early 80s. Smarten UP! was a How to Change the World Publication produced by Black Dot. In one issue of Smarten UP! I included a small piece of clear plastic with peel-off backing. I wrote an article encouraging readers to decide what was art by adhering a cut out label.

This Is Art.Black Dot

I suggested the side of a building or a fence -- something that would otherwise be overlooked or ignored. I don't recall ever getting any feedback on this project -- nor did I see the "Black Dot" anywhere in my travels, but here I am almost thirty years later, still considering this idea, deliberating over what a museum may or may not entail. Basically it is still an extension of seeing, appreciating and sharing what is around is around us."