George Bush the Oil Painter:
More Fun Than Being President

 By Jim Berlin 

George Bush The Younger revealed his newfound passion for oil painting when he presented Jay Leno with a portrait of the comic in November, and next up is an exhibition of his latest works at the presidential library.

Bush started with dogs and cats and has progressed to more sophisticated subjects, but some art critics have predictably called his efforts simplistic and awkward. (Art critics are people who cry “Masterpiece!” over a canvas with nothing more than a single line down the middle. You can take their opinions with a grain of elephant.)

The former president is handling retirement in the manner we all dream about but rarely realize. He left D.C., pulled his Texas ranch over his head and walked into the solitude of an art studio. He is having fun.

Contrast that quiet path with the frantic super-highway driven by Bill Clinton, a man who needs the spotlight like California needs rain. Bill dives into the news daily, weighing in on the world, giving his Secret Service agents fits and fattening the wallets of paparazzi everywhere.

Whether Bush is a good painter or not is purely subjective and of little consequence,

but as a painter myself I can attest to his talent. I have only produced one work over my lifetime, “Boy on a Hay Wagon,” but a neighbor who has COPD said it took his breath away. Others said it took their stomach contents away, but that’s art for you.

Painting is the perfect pursuit for a president or a pauper in retirement. It’s relaxing, inherently colorful, satisfyingly messy – and the quality of the product is right where it belongs: in the eye of the beholder.

Bill Clinton — and maybe even Hillary — should check it out.

Newman Art Sells for $43.8 Mil:
Too Much Money for Buhlshid

By Jim Berlin

We will take a break today from the depressing world of current events and visit the spirit-lifting subject of modern art. (Stick with me here; you’ll be a better person for it.)

Accompanying this article is a painting by the late Barnett Newman entitled “Onement VI” – an icon of Abstract Expressionism which just sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for a record-breaking $43.8 million. Not 43.8 million pesos, not 43.8 million glass beads, but 43.8 million dollars.

To those of you who don’t know your artistic butts from a stick of bamboo, the painting probably looks like a lot of blue paint with a line down the middle. You are probably saying silly things like, “I could paint that myself. Hell, if my dog had thumbs and a brush, he could paint it!”

The art experts at Sotheby’s would disagree. They advertised Onement VI as “a portal to the sublime” that captures “the ineffable essence of existence.”

Barnett Newman is one of the fathers of Abstract Expressionism and his energetic children have filled art galleries with thousands of similar works: Lots of paint on canvas interrupted by a simple geometric shape, a line, or even two lines if the artist wants to enlarge his “portal to the sublime.”

People who purport to know their butts from a stick of bamboo pay huge amounts of money for this stuff, because who would not want a portal to the sublime hanging in their living room?

google images

I think Abstract Expressionism just hasn’t caught on with the masses because the phrase is a mouthful. I propose a new name for the art form, one which borrows heavily from the Bulgarian language.

The word is “buhlshid,” which roughly translates to “the ineffable essence of existence.” Those who paint in this form would be known, of course, as “buhlshid artists.” And the rich folks who are blown away by their paintings would be described as “full of buhlshid.”

I hope whoever spent that $43 million also throws a few bucks at stuff like the Wounded Warrior Project and the local food bank. They’re not portals to the sublime, but they do capture the essence of existence.