Presidents Day Musings

I am not a political person. When friends on social media start talking about what the President did or did not do, I just skip right over it.  I definitely don’t feel like political people are “my people”.  That’s why it was so surprising when I found out that many political leaders—both present and past—were very talented artists!

Take former President George W. Bush, for example. His paintings of war veterans received a lot of press about a year ago, but what was the most surprising part of all of this was how incredibly talented he is. He even had a book published that highlighted his work called, Portraits of Courage.

Bush has said that Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II, was his inspiration for getting into painting. Churchill was a skilled politician, but also an award winning painter. He would enter contests anonymously and would occasionally win. He devoted the last several years of his life to his painting and achieved tremendous results.

Bush was not the only President inspired by Churchill. President Eisenhower began experimenting with painting after developing a friendship with Churchill. As you can see, Eisenhower was quite talented in this field, too.

One of the paintings displayed at Eisenhower’s farm in Gettysburg, PA. Photo credit: Matt Young

The link between the arts and politics goes back even further. In Medieval Europe, it was the kings, religious authorities, and the nobility that pumped money into the arts and helped to bring about the Renaissance. Without politicians that were interested in the arts, we’d never have the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, or the Palace of Versailles.

What is it about art that captures our attention and imagination? It’s certainly not something that’s necessary to live. It’s just something extra that makes life a little bit better. Like music, there’s something about good art that builds us up and inspires us. The fact that it has had such a profound impact on so many important people cannot be coincidental.

That’s what I’m thinking about this Presidents Day. What about you?

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