Sedrick Huckaby doesn’t usually paint famous subjects, but for his protege, he made an exception.
The portrait of George W. Bush is the most conspicuous piece in Huckaby’s new one-room exhibit at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. It is the only portrait of Bush painted from life, according to Huckaby’s knowledge. His official White House portrait was painted from photographs.
Texas Monthly describes the work like this:
It’s a compelling piece, and certainly one that tells us more about the president than does his official White House portrait, in which the inner man is hidden by a thicket of impeccable tailoring and generic Oval Office trappings. In this canvas, we see the one-time commander in chief entrusting himself to his art tutor’s penetrating eye, posing in what appears to be a plain white T-shirt, skinnier than we remember him and more vulnerable. The heedless confidence around the eyes is still there, in blue impasto gobs, but it seems tempered as the sockets deepen and darken with age.
Since the end of his presidency, Bush has taken up painting as a retirement hobby. Bush studied painting with Huckaby and pursued his passion in his Preston Hollow art studio, formerly his “man cave.” His book, Out of Many, One, is a collection of oil paintings depicting the inspiring stories of America’s immigrants.
The other 10 pieces in the exhibit feature Huckaby’s usual subjects of ordinary people native to North Texas, such as a Hispanic working family and residents who share his last name.
The exhibit runs through Dec. 5.