‘Happy Accidents’: Exhibit of Bob Ross paintings set to open in Virginia

A desire for immortality drives the creative process, one might argue. The goal: something that endures, long after The Artist’s death.

In the case of one Bob Ross, what’s endured is not only his artwork, but also his creative process itself. It lives on in reruns of public television’s “The Joy of Painting,” in which “happy little trees” and “happy mountains” were rendered onto canvas.

More than 24 years after Ross’ death, several of his paintings will go on exhibit Tuesday in Purcellville, Virginia. It’s the first time that pieces from Ross’ collection — including those made during the show’s 400-plus-episode run — will be displayed publicly on the East Coast.

“Happy Accidents: An Exhibit of Original Bob Ross Paintings” runs through Oct. 15 at the Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center. The location isn’t all that unusual, in that Bob Ross Inc.’s headquarters are in Northern Virginia. In fact, the man himself often frequented the area, according to the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

“It’s quite poetic that his first major exhibit would be in Purcellville,” said Joan Kowalski, the president of Bob Ross Inc., in a statement.

Anyone who’s watched Ross’ show (which originally ran from 1982 to 1994) probably understands the man’s appeal. Learning his “alla prima” or “direct painting” technique is just part of it.

The other part? His vibe, which is, how you say, suuuuuuuuuper chill. The Bob Ross website actually has a page dedicated to his status as “The King of ASMR.” (If you don’t know what that is, just think of it as a deep-tissue sensory massage.)

Yes, if art’s function is to elevate the human condition, Ross is one of the immortals, because greatness doesn’t always have to happen on the canvas.

The exhibit is free, but you’ll need a ticket. Reserve them by visiting the arts center’s website. Call 540-338-7973 for group ticket information.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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