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1990 David Bates Born: Dallas, Texas 1952 oil on canvas 84 x 64 in. (213.4 x 162.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program 1995.95 Not currently on view

Gallery Label

David Bates loved this bait shop, which stood for many years on Galveston Bay. He called it "a place where the real folks were," and captured the lively traffic on the docks, the noise of seagulls, and a humble, makeshift business. Bates has painted all along the Gulf Coast, from Mexico to northern Florida. The fish shacks and beer joints are stand-ins for the studio that he always wanted, where he could smell the sea and feel the humid air while he painted. Bates believes that the strong brushwork and color contrasts come from his heightened memories, bringing back the experience of the bait shop "even stronger than if you're there." His paintings evoke Marsden Hartley's forceful portraits of fishermen from earlier in the century. Bates marvels that when he paints, "dead guys" like Hartley "start showing up" in ways that he doesn’t expect.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Architecture Interior - detail - window

Ethnic - African-American

Figure male - waist length

Object - foodstuff - beverage

Occupation - vendor - bait seller

Waterscape - sea


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About David Bates

Born: Dallas, Texas 1952

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David Bates