The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Everybody's a Critic (2004)

Street Miami, June 18, 2004. Letter of comment.

Omar Sommereyns' review of the "three painters" show at Dorsch ("Three's a Crowd," June 11) was brought to my attention because the artists - Alex Di Pietra, Lucas R. Blanco, and George Bethea - are, or were, my students. The most common criticism of Bethea's paintings is that they are too much like those of Matisse and the Fauvists of the early 20th Century. There are, in fact, strong similarities, including Bethea's sure-handed and highly evolved use of bright, rich, eccentric color.

The criticism of Bethea's paintings by Sommereyns - he calls them "nauseatingly imbued in radiant color," "tacky, often slapdash oil compositions" - is strikingly similar to the criticism Matisse and the Fauves got 100 years ago. What bothers me is not that this critic can't see - we are used to that, especially in Miami - but that he seems ignorant of, or at best indifferent to, these obvious parallels.

Darby Bannard
Department of Art and Art History
University of Miami