George W. Bush’s ‘Art of Leadership’ Paintings Are Now the Hot Ticket at a Conservative Convention

The 43rd president gets another solo show.

Self-portrait painting by President George W. Bush. Photo by Grant Miller.

Conservative thinkers in Colorado will soon get a firsthand look at how former president George W. Bush spends his time these days: painting portraits. A series of the 43rd president’s artwork is scheduled to go on view at the Freedom Conference & Festival in Steamboat Springs in August.

Organized by the Steamboat Institute, the one-day exhibition on August 25 will show 10 works from the politician’s “Art of Leadership” series. The paintings feature world leaders the president met during his tenure in the White House, including Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Hamid Karzai, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Tony Blair.

“[Bush] was really putting himself out there and taking a personal risk with these paintings, not knowing what people would think of them,” Jennifer Schubert-Akin, CEO of the nonprofit Steamboat Institute, told the Denver Post.

So how did the show come about? The catalyst was Ron Lazoff, a Steamboat Institute board member based in Dallas who has collaborated with the Bush Center in the past. Lazoff had the idea to showcase a selection of the former president’s works at the Colorado conference, which brings together journalists, conservative thinkers, and policy organizations and will feature a keynote speech by Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine (and a former presidential candidate himself).

Bush made his solo debut in April 2014 when his paintings went on view at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. The Freedom Conference will be the first time this body of work will be shown in Colorado.

Unfortunately, the works won’t be accessible to the public, so you’ll have to register for the conference to catch a glimpse of Bush’s brushwork (tickets start at $350). “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.”

This year, Bush also debuted “Portraits of Courage,” a portrait series of US military veterans wounded during his presidency. A signed copy of the book Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors will be auctioned at the Steamboat Institute’s fundraiser.

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