DALLAS, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mark Balma, America's premier portrait and fresco artist, will have his most recent work, titled "The Ties that Bind," unveiled today at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The Center is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University ( SMU) in Dallas, and is the 13th Presidential Library.
"The Ties that Bind" depicts former U.S. President George W. Bush and Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, exchanging ideas at a pivotal time in history, when the Western world was in the process of responding to the events of 9/11. The painting portrays the relationship between these two global leaders, and underscores the strategic alliance concerning their respective countries.
"Portraiture has the unique ability to capture a moment in time, serving as an artistic witness to history that invites interpretation," said Balma. "'The Ties that Bind' reflects the theme of cooperation for the betterment of humanity, elevating it to a timeless message for present and future generations – who may encounter their own challenges amid an uncertain world."With this in mind, former First Lady Laura Bush suggested the idea for the portrait. Balma then studied from in-person sittings at the Oval Office from 2008 to 2009, where he often spoke with President Bush about a variety of art topics, whether the fresco technique or the Sistine Chapel. The portrait was commissioned by Harlan Crow of Dallas, through the Crow Holdings and Trammel Crow Companies. As a gifted oil painter and fresco artist, Balma has become world-renowned during the past 30 years. One of only three fresco painters in the US, he has been engaged to paint high-profile figures, from popes to presidents as well as prominent families such as the Rockefellers and the Crows, among others. Balma's work and materials are inspired by the Italian masters, and his adoption of a technique pioneered by Leonardo da Vinci elevates any subject matter. Most notably, Balma painted the late Margaret Thatcher in London in 1997 for a portrait entitled "A Shared Vision." Similar to "The Ties that Bind," the portrait depicts a key meeting of the minds between the US and Britain. Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan are shown on the south portico of the White House at a time when conservative values converged and fueled a collective vision of a world where there was no "cold war." "A Shared Vision" was unveiled at the Cannon House Office Building in DC, and now resides in Dallas with Crow Holdings. Other high-profile works by Balma have featured George Bush Sr., Gerald Ford and Colin Powell. About Mark Balma Mark Balma's experience and technique have made him the first-choice artist of world leaders, luminaries and discerning clients seeking family portraits. Other notable works by Balma include:
- "The Four Statesmen," commemorating the founding of the G-7 organization with President Gerald Ford, British Prime Minister James Callaghan, French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt;
- "Resolution," a portrait of President George Bush conferring with key advisors in the Oval Office about the Persian Gulf War.