The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Imag­ine if it were pos­si­ble for 16 of this na­tion’s most dis­tin­guished pres­i­dents, past and present, to come to­gether in a re­laxed set­ting, roll up their shirt­sleeves, and sit down for a few friendly rounds of poker.

Thanks to the creative ge­nius of Andy Thomas, ranked among the coun­try’s finest painters of peo­ple and events from cen­turies ago through mod­ern times, it’s not dif­fi­cult to fathom.

What are turn­ing out to be a pair of the artist’s most pop­u­lar paint­ings ever — “Grand Ol’ Gang” and “True Blues” — caught the eye of ev­ery­body from Jay Leno to po­lit­i­cal junkies from both ma­jor par­ties.

The for­mer de­picts Abra­ham Lin­coln, his back to the au­di­ence, mak­ing a wise­crack that has his Repub­li­can poker-play­ing pals — Teddy Roo­sevelt, Dwight D. Eisen­hower, Richard M. Nixon, Ger­ald R. Ford, Ron­ald Rea­gan, Ge­orge Bush and Ge­orge W. Bush — laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cally.

Sim­i­larly, the lat­ter can­vas fea­tures An­drew Jack­son shar­ing laughs and good times with Demo­cratic chums Woodrow Wil­son, Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, Harry S. Tru­man, John F. Kennedy, Lyn­don B. John­son, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clin­ton.

“I knew the project would be pop­u­lar when I be­gan work­ing on it,” Mr. Thomas tells In­side the Belt­way in a tele­phone in­ter­view from his Carthage, Mo., stu­dio. He says pur­chasers of can­vas edi­tions, gi­clee on can­vas, and pa­per prints of the two paint­ings are most taken by the fa­cial ex­pres­sions of the Amer­i­can leaders.

“Pres­i­dents are pres­i­dents,” he says, “and peo­ple al­most get emo­tional about them, like they do with the Amer­i­can flag.”

Read­ers can find both works on dis­play at P&C Art at 212 King Street in Old Town Alexan­dria, Va.

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