The artist formerly known as ‘The President’ debuts work in Dallas

BY Frank Carlson  April 4, 2014 at 3:35 PM EST
Courtesy of The Bush Center's Flickr page.

President George W. Bush’s paintings will go on public display on Saturday. Courtesy of The Bush Center’s Flickr page.

A collection of portraits of world leaders — painted by none other than former world leader President George W. Bush — goes on display in Dallas on Saturday.

Entitled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” the exhibit features more than 24 interpretations of everyone from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Bush’s own father, President George H.W. Bush. Paired with the portraits are photographs and objects significant to the 43rd president’s meetings from over the years.

Mr. Bush took up painting after leaving office in early 2009, beginning first with an iPad app called Penultimate before moving on to private lessons and attempting pets, landscapes, still-lifes and self-portraits. Last year, some of those works became public when a hacker gained access to an email account of a Bush family member.

But this marks the former president’s first staged exhibit, a collection he says that highlights the importance of building close relationships between leaders to resolve issues — a concern some might find relevant as President Barack Obama faces his own crisis with Putin over Crimea.

The paintings can be viewed through June 3 at George W. Bush Presidential Center, on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Even if you can’t make it in person, you can still take a photo tour of the exhibit.