Author: Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman. Catalina Camia contributed to this article.
Former president George W. Bush’s post-White House portraiture hobby has turned into somewhat of a career. The 43rd commander in chief opens his “Portraits of Courage” exhibition on Thursday. It features 66 of the former president’s oil-painted portraits of American military veterans. The exhibition also features the vets’ stories of heroism. It runs through Oct. 1 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas.
“People ask me, ‘Do you miss being president?’ The answer is not really,” Bush told NBC’sToday show earlier this week. “But I miss saluting people who have volunteered to wear the uniform.” The president also is selling a book of his portraits. Proceeds from the book and the exhibit will go to the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the organization’s Military Service Initiative, which advocates for post-9/11 military veterans.
George W. Bush’s portraits of American veterans on display in Dallas
“Portraits of Courage” won’t be the president’s first art showing. In 2014, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” featured portraits of world leaders, including the Dalai Lama, former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and past English Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Bush, during a 2014 appearance on Today, said he painted a pensive, peering Russian President Vladimir Putin to display the leader’s world view.
“Vladimir is a person who in many ways views the United States as an enemy,” Bush told Today. “I felt he saw the world as either the U.S. benefits and Russia loses or vice versa.”
Bush also said he started painting, “to make sure the last chapters of my life are full.”