Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Art: David Bates' Vivid Katrina Work at Kemper Museum

I had never heard of painter David Bates before, but I noted his striking paintings pictured in the Sunday edition of the Kansas City Star and was intrigued by them. I was further intrigued to read about him in the article that accompanied the images. He is based in Dallas, and educated at Southern Methodist University, but loves New Orleans, and has been going to that city for 25 years, painting its natural aspects.

"Lady in a Black Dress" David Bates

When Katrina hit, he was unable to go and personally see the scenes in the city, so working from news reports, he began to paint his impressions of the visuals and the emotions of the people. He worked on this series for two years, painting his last Katrina themed work in 2007. The works have been shown here and there, but the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art will have 80% of the works on exhibit.

"Elysian Fields Avenue" David Bates

As you can see, he's a modernist, but a realistic painter and one painting a theme or narrative. I like the quote pulled by The Star from this New York Times article. "David Bates is having a perfectly interesting career without any attention from the New York art establishment, thank you very much." (I suppose he's not weird and hip enough for most in the NY art scene.)

Details: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is at 4420 Warwick Boulevard in Kansas City Missouri. Hours are Tues-Thurs 10-4, Fri-Sat 10-9, Sun 11-5. Admission and parking are free. On the web at www.kemperart.org. Bates' exhibit starts May 21 and ends August 22. I plan on going; the pictures of the paintings I have seen in the paper and on line are powerful and vivid.

Links of note: Kansas City Star: Paintings of David Bates are a vivid chronicle of Hurricane Katrina. Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans, Bates' home Gallery.


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Oh, yes! When I lived in Rivertown, he was knocking the socks off Louisiana and Texas.

He turned the art world there on its head by painting fantastic swamp pictures--which, you know, the snobs thought were kitsch but wow--

And kept going I see. Thanks for the update on him! And can you believe we both posted on art today? Hmmm, the vibe hit.

Ann T.
I wonder if you would like to see Max Beckmann's work. I think he has a fair amount in St. Louis (?). He is somewhat similar in style although subject matter different. He had PTSD from WWI and was driven from Germany by the Third Reich.

the observer said...

Ann T:
I'll have to look into Mr. Beckmann. St. Louie is about 4 hours by car, but I have a friend near there and I owe her a visit. (Yes, you, J., if you're reading along!)

I figured he'd been around, but I'd never seen his work. His work is really arresting--the facial studies really capture the sorrow and strength of the people and his flood scenes are really well done--he has the reflections in the water down perfectly. I'm looking forward to my museum visit!

Thanks for reading along, and providing more backstory on Mr. Bates!

The Observer