(KFDX/KJTL) — Stirring, life-size paintings of America’s presidents are at the center of an unlikely story of patriotism. The masterpieces brought two men with a love of art and country together.
World-renowned painter, Ross Rossin, immigrated to the U.S. from Bulgaria in 2001. A number of his works reside in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
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.
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 U.S..
To Rossin, the paintings of the Presidents symbolize America’s greatest attribute, the peaceful transfer of power, and in his view, 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.
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, was so moved, he not only purchased it but commissioned Rossin to paint additional life-size canvases so every U.S. president would be honored.
One spans George Washington to Grover Cleveland, the third, now being sketched, will cover 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.
Patterson, owner of Patterson Auto Group in Wichita Falls and Bowie, TX, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam. He was on-site recently as Rossin’s final brush strokes completed the second of the three-part masterpiece and began the third and final sketch at the Booth, an affiliate to the Smithsonian.