When you imagine post-presidency life, perhaps you think of Obama’s recent vacation to Palm Beach, or perhaps you think of George H. W. Bush skydiving on his 90th birthday, but there’s a chance you perhaps think of George W. Bush’s paintings.
Bush is one of many US presidents who have become writers in their post-presidency life, but he is only one in four president painters.
After much progress, Bush has painted sixty-six portraits and four murals of US militiamen and women whom he has met personally. The gallery Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors opened on March 2 and will be on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas until October 1.
Although Bush is considered an amateur painter, the intimate portraiture in his new gallery peers into the problems of the world which he as a past president is perfectly suited to speak about.
In painting the men and women whom he sent off to war, Bush uses his experience as a President to inform the way he and we the people of America look at those who sacrificed much for the sake of our country and for the sake of liberty.
These paintings are not particularly noteworthy for their quality, but they are noteworthy because people are looking at them. Posts about Bush as a painter are currently all over Facebook. But why are people going crazy about Bush’s new gallery?
People are going crazy because whether they liked him as president or not, Bush is famous, and Bush is doing something that was not expected of him.
Although none of us may have imagined Bush to paint, his wife Laura Bush writes in her foreword to his new book, “Painting, even as a pastime, is a serious business. Like any skill, it takes practice and discipline, which makes it well-suited to George—or, more to the point, George well-suited to it.” Laura Bush did not think of her husband as a painter, but he has become a painter.
Bush once told an art instructor, “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body.” Currently, Bush is not as skilled as Rembrandt and may not make a huge impact on art as Rembrandt did, but through his art, Bush still can make just an impact as large as Rembrandt did.
If you are not planning on travelling to Dallas anytime soon but would like to see Bush’s gallery and read the stories of the militiamen and women for yourself, you can buy it in book format. The stories are also available through audio CD and read by Bush. All profits will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Military Service Initiative which seeks to transition militiamen and women back into ordinary lives as citizens.