David Bates, Still Life with Dogwood IV, 2011, oil on panel, 60 x 36".

David Bates

Betty Cuningham Gallery

David Bates, Still Life with Dogwood IV, 2011, oil on panel, 60 x 36".

When David Bates began to show his paintings nationally, in the early 1980s, he emerged as a regional painter, the region in question being his native Texas. A Chicago reviewer wrote of his work back then, “In their celebration of small-town sights and customs, the paintings confirm all the old Regionalist values.” Indeed, Bates did tend to concentrate on the scenes and people of Texas and the Gulf Coast, and in doing so found a niche. There was a downside, though, expressed by the same Chicago reviewer: “Bates is by no means untutored, yet the way he draws the human figure often is quite impossible. Does he intend this? Who knows? It is difficult to tell what is the result of limitations and what of strength.” The regionalist label, then, brought with it the charge of a lack of sophistication or even a crudeness, as if Bates were at best a conservative throwback and more likely

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