During the recent Ellen/Dubya online melodrama, a meme made the rounds depicting a futuristic sci-fi utopia, complete with flying cars and transparent spiral skyscrapers, with the text, “If That Shoe Had Hit Bush.”
The reference is to the December 2008 incident when an Iraqi man threw his shoe at President George W. Bush during a press conference. (Throwing your shoe at someone is a grave insult in Arab culture.) The meme can be read as either pure absurdism, or as a sly commentary on the ultimate futility of such gestures, and the raw emotion that motivates them.
You could say something similar about Bush’s paintings, on display at the Kennedy Center.
What makes these straightforward, somewhat bland, portraits interesting is that they were done by someone who was once the most powerful man in the world. The portraits are of 98 wounded military veterans, a group that Bush has done much for through his Bush Institute Military Service Initiative.
No matter your political inclinations, you can appreciate these paintings, as objects of sincerity or reconsideration.
Kennedy Center REACH, Studio K, 2700 F St. NW; through Nov. 15; Free.