Bush paintings on show in Texas

Former President George W. Bush is seen painting portraits of men and women wounded in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.



It's a rare opportunity to see the handiwork of a former leader of the world – in a show that pays tribute to America's warriors.

Growing out of President George W. Bush's own outreach and the ongoing work of the George W. Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative, "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors" brings together 66 full-color portraits and a four-panel mural painted by President Bush of members of the United States military who have served the nation with honor since 9/11, and whom he has come to know personally.

The traveling exhibit's permanent home is the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. The show opens Jan. 20 at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland – a fitting spot as Bush has lived in both Midland and Odessa. An opening reception is scheduled Jan. 19.

Bush officials said the opportunity to show the portraits around the country is valuable.

"While the exhibit was open at the Bush Center, thousands of people had the opportunity to come through and learn first-hand about the stories of the men and women who serve our nation. We're excited that more and more people will have that opportunity as this artwork travels the country, helping raise awareness of the issues facing our warriors as they transition to civilian life,"

The Bush Institute's Col. Matthew Amidon said via email.

In an interview last year with VOA (www.voanews.com), the former president himself spoke about veterans who were the inspiration behind the effort to paint their portraits for an exhibit and book, titled "Portraits of Courage: A Commander-in-Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors."

He told Voice of America that he hopes the art speaks for itself, but Portraits of Courage is also a fundraiser for veterans.

All proceeds from the sale of the Portraits of Courage book, including a more expensive, limited edition signed by the former president, will help fund programs of the George W. Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative, which aims to help military members transition to civilian life, help veterans find employment if needed, and address ways to treat both the visible and invisible injuries of war.

The show opens Jan. 20 at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland.

Museum officials, in a press release, stated "our men and women in uniform have faced down enemies, liberated millions, and in doing so showed the true compassion of our nation. Often, they return home with injuries--both visible and invisible--that intensify the challenges of transitioning into civilian life. "

The release also detailed that research shows a civilian-military divide with 71 percent of Americans say they have little understanding of the issues facing veterans, and veterans agree: 84 percent say that the public has "little awareness" of the issues facing them and their families.

It is President Bush's desire that their stories of courage and resilience will honor our men and women in uniform, highlight their family and caregivers who bear the burden of their sacrifice, and help Americans understand how we can support our veterans and empower them to succeed.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Robert E. and Donna Landreth Family Fund at Permian Basin Area Foundation, Roni and Wes Perry/PBEX Resources, LLC, the Rea Charitable Trust, OGX Resources and Lois and Richard Folger.

To become a sponsor or to learn more about supporting this exhibition, please contact Megan Buck, development director at 432-683-2882or mbuck@MuseumSW.org.

The New York Times bestselling book that goes with the exhibit has forewords by former First Lady Laura Bush and General Peter Pace, 16th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The review of the book by the New York Times offered praise.

"After staring at the haunting close-up portraits of wounded warriors and reading the searing accounts of their suffering, I'm beginning to understand why this beautifully published book went to No. 1 on The Times's nonfiction best-seller list...

...The success of "Portraits of Courage" (with the proceeds to help vets) is something more than just another "Thank you for your service." It testifies to our genuine, bipartisan determination to do it better this time – to support healing in all of its forms..."

(c)2018 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)
Visit the Odessa American at www.oaoa.com
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