Art Will Be Displayed to Increase Awareness of PTSD and Other Invisible Wounds of War
Stirring, life-size paintings of America’s presidents are at the center of an unlikely story of patriotism. The masterpieces brought together two men with a mutual love of art and country.
World-renowned painter, Ross Rossin, immigrated to the US from Bulgaria in 2001. A number of his works reside in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
As a youngster in Bulgaria, Rossin dreamed of coming to America. But before he could migrate to Atlanta in 2001, he began thinking about how he could create a work of art that summarized his feelings about the US. Inspired by the 20th Century presidents, he created a floor-to-ceiling portrait with every commander-in-chief from William McKinley to Bill Clinton seated in one room.
After seeing the life-size portrait of the 18 commanders-in-chief on display at the Booth Museum in Georgia, Harry Patterson, a philanthropist, businessman, and Vietnam vet from Wichita Falls, TX, was so moved, he not only purchased it but commissioned Rossin to paint additional life-size canvases so every US president would be honored. One spans George Washington to Grover Cleveland, The final painting, now in the sketch stage, is of 21st-century leaders George Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump – with room for presidents in the future. The pieces total a combined 61-foot wide and 14-foot high expanse of portraits.
“The paintings of the Presidents symbolize America’s greatest attribute, the peaceful transfer of power, and many of the men in these paintings might have opposed each other politically but when it was time to move on, they went willingly and facilitated a smooth transition,” Rossin explained.
“I plan to display these paintings initially in Texas, and then in other places throughout the country, so that people realize the role of Commander-in-Chief of our country’s armed services is a heavy responsibility,” Patterson said. “PTSD and other invisible wounds of war sadly can be the result of protecting our country and thousands of America’s veterans need help and understanding.”
Patterson, owner of Patterson Auto Group in Wichita Falls and Bowie, TX, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam. He is on the board of the National Veterans and Wellness Center in Angel Fire, New Mexico. He was on-site at the Booth, an affiliate to the Smithsonian, as Rossin completed the second painting and began sketches of the 21st-century presidents.