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Bob Ross Exhibit Presented by the Franklin Park Arts Center and Bob Ross Inc.

For the first time since 1994 when The Joy of Painting ended its run of 31 seasons, the Bob Ross foundation decided to showcase some of the artist and TV icon’s works which he produced during the show live in front of thousands of people.

Beginning September 10th through October 15th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm there will be public gatherings and showings of the art at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia.

There was a private viewing on Sunday September 15th, where 24 original artworks painted live by artist Bob Ross during episodes of The Joy of Painting were shown to council members, local broadcast and radio stations. Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser, and members from the Bob Ross foundation were also present at the showing.

Bob Ross Foundation President, Joan Kowalski and Manager of the Franklin Park Arts Center, Elizabeth Bracey worked together to present Bob Ross’s masterpieces which had not been shown to the public in-person since the show ended nearly 25-years-ago.

“These paintings were done in 1993 during The Joy of Painting. Each piece has a plaque next to them which has a quote on what Bob said about the painting while painting it on the show which shows a little bit Bob’s personality,” Elizabeth Bracey, Franklin Park Arts Center manager and event organizer said in an in-person interview, “Bob Ross Inc. had never done an exhibit before of his work so we wanted to curate it in a way that really showed his personality as well as his ability as a painter…This exhibit was meant to travel, so after this is over on October 15th, we will box it up for the Bob Ross Inc., they are working on a schedule for 2020, starting in Europe, which include, Belgium and maybe Holland.”

Bob Ross, born in Daytona Beach and raised in Orlando Florida, dropped out of school and at 18 joined the Air Force, where he eventually served as a drill sergeant. He was first stationed in Florida, and later transferred to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, where he got inspiration for many of his landscape paintings. Ross mainly learned how to paint by watching William Alexander, another “how to” television painter. He did not make much money serving in the Air Force so he sold his landscape paintings on gold prospecting pans to tourists at a local bar near Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, where he held a part-time bartending job, according to Bob Ross: 13 Happy Little Facts About the Iconic PBS Painter and Famous Veterans: Bob Ross.

When Ross retired from the Air Force, and returned to the Florida, he began teaching his colleagues and friends the painting technique he learned and shortly after, began teaching classes.

After one of Ross’s courses, he met his soon to be longtime business partner, Annette Kowalski, who knew Ross “better than anyone” and tried to convince him to move further North according to Danny Hajek, contributor to the NPR morning report.

“It started out as getting more people to take Bob’s classes. Television or radio wasn’t ever considered in the beginning. He was teaching in Florida but my parents thought that he should teach in more places up here, like Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. and Northern Virginia. The original plan was to get him to teach more classes.” Bob Ross Inc. President and daughter of Annette Kowalski, Joan Kowalski said in an in-person interview.

Kowalski’s family convinced Ross to come to the Northern Virginia area where he taught a few classes in Tysons Corner but not many people attended. Not deterred, Kowalski’s family continued trying to help Ross, “My father decided, ‘let’s make a little commercial that we can put on the local channels’ so they went to the local television station where the television studio manager said, ‘he is really good and his personality is great, why don’t you guys make a television show?’ and that’s how it all started.” Joan Kowalski said.

For Bob Ross fans, who cannot attend the public Bob Ross portrait exhibit, do not worry, Netflix has just released The Joy of Painting on their streaming service according to Hajek. Now anyone can paint alongside one of the most iconic painters in recent American history.

By: Alexander Fernandez