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Now, The Artist Formerly Known as 43

Friday, March 8, 2013

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We've had Cher, Madonna, Prince (and his multiple identities and glyphs). So why not an artistic alias that's a number?

Especially when that number has a unique place in American history?

And thus, the painter behind the moniker 43 is no less than George W. Bush—not coincidentally, the 43rd President of the United States.

Prince Picasso George W. Bush - 43
Twitter (left); Centaur Galleries (center); Fox TV (right)

Artists throughout history have identified with logos (Prince); last names (Picasso); and, now, numbers (President George W. Bush).

The former President, who left office in 2009, has apparently gone happily to the dogs—and the landscapes, and the ranches, and even to the showers—with his new retirement hobby of painting.

Showered with Attention

Reports of the President's artistic explorations have been circulating since the fall, but the issue exploded last month with The Smoking Gun's disclosure that a hacker named Guccifer had gained access to Bush family documents, email accounts and photos, including photos of several Bush paintings.

Shower painting
The Smoking Gun

A hacker who gained access to Bush family emails leaked this reported self-portrait by former President George W. Bush.

One of those photos, emailed to Bush's sister, shows a man resembling Bush in the shower. Another shows a man's toes poking out of bathtub water.

As critics and Freudians chewed over the implications of those works, however, Fox News has recently reported on a Georgia artist who spent a month in Florida teaching the former President to paint all manner of subjects.

Mr. President

Bonnie Flood, of Cumming, GA, told Fox TV that she had worked with Bush about six hours a day in Boca Raton, teaching him to mix paints and guiding him on his brush strokes.

She called her famous student 43, after the signature he was using on his paintings. But being a teacher, she summoned her Teacher Voice and more formalities when her student went astray.

"When I really wanted him to do something, I would say, 'Mr. President you know that you don't do it that way,'"
she told Fox.

Dog Gone

The hard part, Flood said, was getting her dog-besotted student to try a new subject.

President GW Bush and dogs
Fox News

The former President painted only dogs until his art teacher persuaded him to try landscapes and other subjects. She calls him "a great artist."

"He started off painting dogs," Flood said. "I think he said he painted 50 dogs. He pulled out this canvas and started painting dogs and I thought, 'Oh my God, I don't paint dogs!'"

With guidance and experience, Bush eventually branched out to landscapes and renderings of his Texas ranch.

And the man's got talent, his teacher says.

"He has such a passion for painting, it's amazing," Flood said. "He's going to go down in the history books as a great artist."



Tagged categories: Color; Decorative painting; Design

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