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Peter Max's rainbow America

February 14, 2009|Associated Press

Peter Max, known for his colorful canvases and psychedelic portrayal of cultural icons, became friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton after the 1993 inauguration -- they told him they had posters of his on their dorm room walls in college.

"I was beyond belief thrilled," said Max, who has painted 100 portraits of Clinton.

Now, the Berlin-born, Shanghai-raised pop artist's work is on three floors of the museum of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., for a show that begins Monday and runs through May 25. The show includes Max's depiction of presidents, American symbols such as the White House and the Statue of Liberty, and other images of his adopted country and beyond.

Portraits of Bill and Hillary greet patrons as they walk in the first-floor gallery. Folks will have to walk behind a partition to reach a painting of George W. Bush.

Despite his reverence for Clinton, Max has no harsh words about George W. Bush or, for that matter, about anyone else -- just as his optimism shows through the primary colors of his acrylics and oils.

"I see everything through rainbow eyes," Max said.

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