FROM THE PAINT­BRUSH OF GE­ORGE W. BUSH»

Art­work by Ge­orge W. Bush com­ing to Steam­boat Springs

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By John Wen­zel

As part of the 9th an­nual Free­dom Con­fer­ence & Fes­ti­val, a con­ser­va­tive con­fab tak­ing place in Steam­boat Springs next month, the paint­ings of 43rd Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush will be on dis­play for at­ten­dees at the Steam­boat Grand Ho­tel.

The one-day ex­hi­bi­tion on Fri­day, Aug. 25, or­ga­nized by the Steam­boat In­sti­tute, marks the Colorado de­but of Bush’s work from “The Art of Lead­er­ship: A Pres­i­dent’s Per­sonal Diplo­macy” ex­hi­bi­tion, which fea­tures paint­ings of world lead­ers Bush met dur­ing his ten­ure in the White House in­clud­ing Vladimir Putin, An­gela Merkel, Hamid Karzai, Ellen John­son Sir­leaf and Tony Blair.

The Steam­boat Springs ver­sion will of­fer 10 paint­ings from that col­lec­tion, which orig­i­nally bowed at the Ge­orge W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter near Dal­las in 2014. Steam­boat In­sti­tute board mem­ber Ron La­zoff, a part-time Dal­las res­i­dent who is in­volved with the Bush Cen­ter, first had the idea to bring the paint­ings to the con­fer­ence.

“(Bush) was re­ally putting him­self out there and tak­ing a per­sonal risk with these paint­ings, not know­ing what peo­ple would think of them,” said Jen­nifer Schu­bert-Akin, CEO of the free-mar­ket, non­profit Steam­boat In­sti­tute.

The In­sti­tute’s board de­bated mak­ing the small ex­hibit open to the pub­lic. But se­cu­rity con­cerns, a lack of ex­hi­bi­tion space and a need to en­sure the con­fer­ence’s 350 reg­is­trants saw them even­tu­ally won out.

“As much as I would have loved it, it would have added to the se­cu­rity costs, and we wouldn’t have known how many peo­ple were go­ing to show up,” Schu­bert-Akin said. “We’ve only got 8 hours to

dis­play them.”

Reg­is­tra­tion to the event costs $350 per per­son, with $575 and $1,250 VIP tiers. Schu­bert-Akin noted that or­ga­niz­ers are schedul­ing a con­fer­ence-ad­ja­cent film fes­ti­val that will be free and open to the pub­lic, in­clud­ing fam­ily-friendly pro­gram­ming and in-per­son film­maker ap­pear­ances.

The Free­dom Con­fer­ence & Fes­ti­val re­volves around con­ser­va­tive and lib­er­tar­ian thought with speak­ers such as mag­a­zine pub­lisher Steve Forbes, au­thor Re­bekah Gre­gory, and edi­tors and colum­nists from the Wall Street Jour­nal, Colorado Springs Gazette and Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner, among others. Wy­att Smith, se­nior di­rec­tor of the Bush Cen­ter, will also at­tend and speak at the event.

“This is the first time the (Bush) ex­hibit has been shown in Colorado, giv­ing state res­i­dents a unique op­por­tu­nity to view this pop­u­lar col­lec­tion,” wrote Jack­son Shedel­bower, of the Steam­boat In­sti­tute, in an “At­ten­dance at the most re­cent spe­cial ex­hibit ex­ceeded 59,000 vis­i­tors in a six-week pe­riod.”

Al­though some balked at the idea of Bush as a fine artist when he took up paint­ing in his post-pre­siemail. den­tial re­tire­ment, the 71-year-old has stuck to his guns and humbly worked to im­prove his art.

“Por­traits of Courage: A Com­man­der in Chief’s Trib­ute to Amer­ica’s War­riors,” a book of Bush’s paint­ings of wounded U.S. mil­i­tary vet­er­ans that was pub­lished in Fe­bru­ary, net­ted sur­pris­ingly fa­vor­able re­views from crit­ics and topped The Wash­ing­ton Post’s best-selling books list ear­lier this year.

Bush will per­son­al­ize a copy of the book that is be­ing auctioned on the Steam­boat In­sti­tute’s fundraiser as part of its $75-per-per­son Red, White & Blue Bash fundraiser on July 20, Schu­bert-Akin said, with bid­ding start­ing at $300.

Pho­tos by Grant Miller, pro­vided by the Ge­orge W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter

A self-por­trait of Ge­orge W. Bush.

A por­trait of Ge­orge H.W. Bush by his son, Ge­orge W. Bush.

A por­trait of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin by Ge­orge W. Bush.

Some paint­ings of Ge­orge W. Bush will be on dis­play at the Free­dom Con­fer­ence & Fes­ti­val in Steam­boat Springs in Au­gust.

Crown Pub­lish­ing

“Por­traits of Courage” by Ge­orge W. Bush.

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