Like Winston Churchill before him, former President George W. Bush has picked up a paintbrush and become an artist of leisure.
Churchill said of retirement, “Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.” Bush has slipped into retirement with class and dignity in what seems like a prolonged holiday not caring who’s put him on the scrap-heap.
On Friday Bush revealed a series of portraits of world leaders he’s painted. The exhibit titled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” opened Saturday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. It features Bush’s paintings of some two dozen world figures he worked with during his 2001-2009 presidency, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Dalai Lama.
“No telling how these people will react when they see their portrait,” Bush said in a taped interview on NBC with his daughter Jenna Bush Hager, a special correspondent for The Today Show.
Bush’s history will be written by historians not yet born. What stands today for show that can’t be altered is his art. The public is free to enjoy, criticize, contemplate or dislike Bush’s work, but the media can’t smear paint that’s dried.