Review of April 2012 exhibits “David Bates: Down Highway 23” and “Joseph Havel”.
Dallas artist David Bates may be the finest painter his hometown has ever produced, but when it comes to his favorite sport, he heads to Louisiana and the remote extremities of Plaquemines Parish. While the paintings in this Down Highway 23 series reflect the everyday lives of fishermen, they were inspired by a trip he made in 2010, when instead of the usual scenes of shrimpers, oystermen and boats laden with the day’s catch, he encountered a coastal dystopia defined by reporters, politicians, tar balls, oil slicks and clean up crews in hazmat suits. Evidence of the BP oil disaster was everywhere in a coastal landscape transformed into something nightmarish, but amid the chaos he began to spot the familiar faces of those who derived their living from those waters. What he saw in them was not defeat but the same resilience that had faced many hurricanes and come back for more.