FROM THE PAINTBRUSH OF GEORGE W. BUSH»
Artwork by George W. Bush coming to Steamboat Springs
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
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.
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.
“Portraits of Courage” by George W. Bush.