|Me hanging with Abe in 2009 at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.|
Monday Feb 16 is President's Day here in the USA.
Its an odd holiday isn't it? We used to celebrate Washington and Lincoln's Birthday's separately, and now that's all rolled into one. And what happened to Jefferson? He was the author of the Constitution after all.
Each US president has taken the following Oath of office.:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
That is their job and what they are sworn to do. This is important to me as an artist and a citizen, because that document was written to protect our right to pursue our own dreams and happiness. Art is a big part of my happiness, and it seems I'm not alone.
|A watercolor painting by Ulysses S. Grant, 8th US President|
|Oil painting by Dwight D. Eisenhower|
Did you know that there have been several presidents who painted? Ulysses S. Grant painted watercolors. The esteemed Civil War Union general and 18th president seems to have had a head start in the art world relative to his fellow president-painters. In 1840, when he was as young as 18, Grant had already completed a watercolor landscape as a gift for Kate Lowe, his girlfriend at the time. Upon arriving at West Point Academy for cadet training, the future military hero more formally studied painting under Romantic artist Robert Walter Weir. As president, he took pride in his ability not only to command armies, but to create art as well.
Dwight Eisenhower also painted. Eisenhower, already having served as a soldier and the president of Columbia University in his time before assuming the United States presidency, came to painting later in life than Grant. While observing Thomas E. Stephens painting a portrait of his wife, Mamie, he was struck with curiosity, but not necessarily any desire to emulate the artist’s work. When Stephens optimistically sent the Columbia University president a complete painting kit of his own, Eisenhower enjoyed the challenge of experimentation, but remained unconvinced that he had the innate skill necessary to make it as a painter. Not until Eisenhower was 58 years old, Chief of Staff of the Army, and influenced by his good friend and fellow politician Winston Churchill—an avid painter himself—did he take up the hobby seriously.
In addition to Grant and Eisenhower, both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush have taken brush and paint artistically. And of course it is relatively well known that our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson was an architect as demonstrated by his primary residence, the beautiful Monticello .
|Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia|
Many men of power have had artistic careers or pastimes over the centuries. It is an activity that we all need and which balances and stimulates the intellect in my opinion.
For me, it is the "stuff of life"!