A police officer. An astronaut. Kids consider all kinds of cool careers. However, this might be a job that adults would line up for. Recently, Imgurian roguerpi created a post about their friend: “When I met Joan, I didn’t know what she did for a living,” they wrote. “Apparently, her day job is managing all of Bob Ross’ collected works, and staffing an 800 number for people who want to call and talk about Bob.”
Needless to say, the post went viral. However, the first exhibit of original Bob Ross paintings on the East Coast is just as popular. In fact, it’s doing so good, the organizers, Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia, even had to release additional tickets.
“[Joan] recently donated some of his art to the Smithsonian, but it’s unclear when they’ll put it on display. So she had a show at the local park in their small studio.”
“We watched a documentary for an hour before there was room to enter the actual show.”
This exhibit, presented in partnership with Bob Ross Inc., offers a rare opportunity to view original works created by the famous artist during his long-running series on public television. It is also the first time his collection will be on public display on the East Coast.
“I have to assume that people are attracted to Bob’s inspirational way of speaking about art and his ability to encourage people to tap into their own creativity,” Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center representative Elizabeth Bracey told Bored Panda. “His positive nature and wacky sayings are what resonate with people and he made art accessible to anyone. In our busy world with all the stimulation and “noise”, I think people like to “unplug” from the world and Bob’s show The Joy of Painting is almost like meditation. It’s calming, it’s quiet and it’s positive. Everyone needs more Bob Ross!”
Ross started painting as a young man after he was transferred to Alaska while serving in the Air Force. Having grown up in Florida, he was mesmerized by the snow, mountains and breathtaking nature scenes, all of which would become favorite features in his paintings.
Even though Ross later returned to Florida, he frequently visited Bob Ross Inc. headquarters in Northern Virginia for business meetings. He said he enjoyed antiquing and often found himself in Purcellville, searching through the many treasures of western Loudoun. “It’s quite poetic that his first major exhibit would be in Purcellville,” Joan Kowalski, President, Bob Ross Inc., said.
“When we planned this exhibit with Bob Ross Inc., we knew that it would be popular because Bob Ross is an icon and his popularity has increased in all demographics,” Bracey said. “However, I don’t think either of us anticipated that the response would be this expansive. We have sold out all of our free tickets – more than 15,000 people will see this exhibit and we are trying to figure out if we can add more opportunities for people as the demand is still there for tickets. But more than that, I see the success in how much it has resonated with the visitors who have attended the exhibit.”
“People of all ages, all races, all demographics are connecting with each other, telling stories about how Bob Ross was part of their childhood or is part of their life now. They are connecting with strangers in the gallery, because they have a shared experience and ultimately that is what the arts are supposed to do! The arts are supposed to bring people together in a shared common experience. We are seeing this every day and it is so energizing for us. Truly, my heart is full.”
“Bob was not about being a famous artist. He was about helping you find your artistic abilities,” Bracey added. “However, what we have found is that everyone who sees his artwork in person appreciates his technique, his skill, his ability as an artist so much more than they ever anticipated.”
“You can see the brush strokes, see the luminous quality of the canvas, you see how he made those happy little trees using the fan brush or the other tools. You may not like his style of painting, but when you see his artwork, you realize what a talent he really had. Then when you think about how he painted these pictures in 26 minutes, you have a newfound respect for him as an artist. His quotes, his sayings, his positive nature will live on forever, but this exhibit has also emphasized the respect he deserves as an artist.”