President George W. Bush is known for his focus on the military and post-9/11 veterans, which he hasn’t lost sight of since leaving the White House. Adopting art as his form of expression, Bush has since painted sixty-six full-color portraits and a four-panel mural of 98 service members and veterans that are close to his heart. As a collection it is titled Portraits of Courage: A Commander In Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.
The Witte Museum of San Antonio, Texas is hosting this incredible project now through September 30, 2018. It is presented by the Zachry Group and supported by The USAA Foundation, Inc., as well as Valor Worldwide, the trusted resource for military and their families. Service members and their families receive free admission on the weekends of August 18-19 and September 15-16.
Portraits of Courage is meant to honor the sacrifice and courage of U.S. military veterans, especially the group that Bush selected to depict. The 98 warriors whose faces are vibrantly displayed are a part of Team 43, which Bush has gotten to personally know in his time out of office. Bush also hopes that Portraits of Courage will highlight the work of the Military Service Initiative that helps post-9/11 veterans and their families make a successful transition to civilian life and addresses issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Inspired by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Bush began to paint after leaving office in 2009. He even hired an art teacher to help him with his technique, and turned his relaxing hobby into a way to raise awareness for veterans’ and their stories. His paintings first became public when they were leaked by a hacker in 2013, but he soon became more comfortable sharing his art. Bush’s works have been displayed at his presidential library in Dallas. They consist largely of portraits of major world figures (such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Dalai Lama, and his father George H.W. Bush).
Elaborating on these veteran’s times of service and their continued leadership and contributions, President Bush published the Portraits of Courage book in 2017. It is a collection of each of the paintings and stories of the subjects. Profits from the book will be donated to the Military Service Initiative and the George W. Bush Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to veteran wellness.
Visit the Witte Museum online: https://www.wittemuseum.org/
Levi Leidy, In-house Writer
“Portraits of Courage | Bush Center.” George W. Bush, www.bushcenter.org/exhibits-and-events/exhibits/2017/portraits-of-courage-exhibit.html.
“Engage Conversation: Portraits of Courage with President Bush | Bush Center.” George W. Bush, www.bushcenter.org/exhibits-and-events/events/2017/01/portraits-of-courage-with-president-bush.html.
“Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief.” Art&Seek, artandseek.org/calendar/event/79327/portraits-of-courage-a-commander-in-chiefs-tribute-to-americas-warriors.
Watkins, Eli, and Jamie Gangel. “George W. Bush Discovers His ‘Inner Rembrandt’ in Homage to Veterans.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 Feb. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/politics/george-w-bush-paintings/index.html.