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George W. Bush paints one of the works in his “Portraits of Courage” art exhibit. The paintings are on display at Wonders of Wildlife through July 5.
George W. Bush paints one of the works in his “Portraits of Courage” art exhibit. The paintings are on display at Wonders of Wildlife through July 5.

Bush paintings debut at WOW

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Former President George W. Bush’s “Portraits of Courage” art exhibit debuted on Saturday at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium.

The exhibit at the 500 W. Sunshine St. attraction will be open to the public through July 5. The traveling exhibit marks its first time outside of Texas with the WOW debut, according to a news release.

The works feature Bush’s paintings of servicemen and servicewomen he has encountered since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We are incredibly honored to showcase this  deeply moving exhibition that casts an important light on some of our nation’s greatest heroes and their sacrifices,” said Johnny Morris, founder of WOW and Bass Pro Shops, in the release.

To land the exhibit, Morris made an undisclosed personal donation to the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas.

After it leaves Springfield, “Portraits of Courage” will move to Witt Museum in San Antonio. The exhibit previously had showings at Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas, and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, according to its website.

The exhibit comprises 66 painted portraits and a four-panel mural. It also was compiled into a book, with the proceeds benefiting the presidential center and its military service initiatives, according to the website.

Bush visited Springfield in September 2017 to help usher in the reopening of WOW. He did not return to the Queen City for the launch of his art exhibit, said Bass Pro spokesman Jack Wlezien.

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