Bob Ross Paintings Virginia-bound

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A wonderful human and a beautiful painting. Haiden Goggin

Take a road trip to see some happy little trees

The man, the myth, the legend. Bob Ross is a household name representing art, patience, encouragement, and passion. After his time as an Air Force sergeant in Alaska he made the choice to teach painting classes which is how he met Annette Kowalski, the future co-founder of Bob Ross Inc. that’s currently run by Kowalski’s daughter Joan. Out of that came “The Joy of Painting,” a 403-episode collection of Bob Ross doing paint nights over television before they were cool. In a 2011 interview with PBS, Ross said “I talk to only one person when I’m filming, and I’m really crazy about that person.” For anyone who’s watched the show, you can’t doubt that at all. All I want in life is for someone to look at me the way Ross looks at that camera. In all seriousness though, his narration style creates a certain level of intimacy and his speech style boosts your self-confidence to the point you really believe you can paint that happy little tree right along with him.

Last week I learned that – for the first time in history – some of Bob Ross’ pieces are going to be exhibited at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia, just 30 miles from Bob Ross Inc.’s offices. It blew my mind when I discovered it’d never happened before, but according to Kowalski there just hasn’t been interest in it before. She mentioned that Ross had always talked about how cool it’d be to be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution because it’d make people want to learn to paint (he didn’t even want the recognition, he just wanted to inspire others – could this man get any more wholesome?). Kowalski had submitted a few paintings to the Smithsonian with hopes of having them displayed, though this has yet to be done. One of Kowalski’s friends, Elizabeth Bracey, is the curator at the Franklin Park Arts Center. She heard about the paintings going to the Smithsonian and decided to ask to do a small exhibit with some of the remaining pieces. Bracey and Kowalski had a simple handshake agreement, but the public became crazed about the exhibit.

“I just love that story because it’s just sort of how everything seems to happen with Bob Ross,” Kowalski commented in a story by CNN. “Small things become wonderful and significant.”

This exhibit will be running from Sept. 10-Oct. 15 this year, and they’re in the starting stages of setting up more exhibits in small venues in small cities across the United States and Canada (crossing my fingers that it’ll be more than just Ontario and B.C. . . .). The current display in Virginia showcases only 24 of his 1,000+ pieces, but tickets are free, just as Ross would’ve wanted.

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