David Bates first visited Grassy Lake, a 5,000-acre nature sanctuary in southwestern Arkansas, in the summer of 1982. He was immediately captivated by the area’s strange beauty and the visual complexity of the primeval environment of swamps and cypresses. The landscape, people, flora and fauna of Grassy Lake remained a major source of inspiration for Bates until 1979 when the artist made a conscious decision to immerse himself in the world of the Texas Gulf coast.
In this new body of work, the artist returns to Grassy Lake and rediscovers what he loves about the area. Bates explains: “After an introspective period, coinciding with the loss of my parents, the concept of visiting an old friend—Grassy Lake—was comforting and seemed a perfect way to get back to the joy of life. All of the experiences of the last twenty years have deepened and enriched these new paintings of Grassy Lake.”
Bates’ “Grassy Lake” oil paintings on paper and canvas are boldly mannered, sublimely colored, beautifully crafted compositions. The artist paints imagery expressing his passionate love of the area: moonlight on a remote lake; the remnants of a setting orange sun; a flock of birds; or the shape and texture of a magnolia. Bates’ imagery also includes paintings of ibis, roseate spoonbills, the water peacock and the brown pelican.