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The Photos of the Bob Ross Exhibit in Virginia Will Brighten Up Your Day

"We could all use a little more Bob Ross in our lives."

On Sunday, September 15th, the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia, hosted the opening reception for Happy Accidents: An Exhibit of Original Bob Ross Paintings.

At the exhibit, fans of Ross are able to see 24 of his paintings on display, as well as read some of the heartwarming words that he was so well-known for.

"The paintings we chose were all from the 1993 year of his PBS series The Joy of Painting," Franklin Park Arts Center managing director Elizabeth Bracey told Best Life. "They're a great retrospective of his style and his subjects. We also took a quote from each show where he made the painting."

Ross once estimated that he produced more than 30,000 paintings over the course of his career. And most of what remains of his collection belongs to Bob Ross Inc., which is run by Joan Kowalski, the daughter of Ross's former business partner, Annette Kowalski.

According to Bracey, Ross's works are kept at a secret, undisclosed location, and most have never been viewed by the public, which makes the exhibit all the more exciting. Who doesn't want to see some of Ross's so-called "happy accidents" in person?

Bracey said she and Kowalski met on an art committee, and at the time, Koawlski was planning to host a Ross exhibit at another gallery. "But that fell through, so I said, 'Well, we have a gallery,'" Bracey recalled

Now, the exhibit is sold out through its run, which ends on October 15th. But those lucky enough to attend have been posting photos on social media, where they're being shared far and wide. "The line was out the door and up the hill into the parking lot when we got there an hour before opening," wrote one Imgur user, who went to the opening night reception. "People had driven from at least two states away that I met."

My friend has an art show. It's popular.

"We've been telling people to come and we'll stay open until 10 o'clock at night if we have to," Bracey said. "We're trying to figure out a way to add more tickets because the Bob Ross way is to say 'yes!' not to turn people away."

It's taken a lot of work to manage the crowds, given that the gallery can only fit around 75 people at one time, but they want as many people to be able to view the exhibit as possible while maintaining the intimacy Ross would have wanted.

"We want everyone to have a really positive experience," Bracey said. "There's no sense in having a Bob Ross exhibit if people are going to leave feeling angry."

Thus far, however, Bracey said overall the response has been "overwhelming" in the positive sense. "People have been having such a strong emotional reaction to the work, and they have the most wonderful stories of times when they watched him," she said.

"He really wanted to be known as a teacher," Bracey said. "He loved painting, but what he really loved was inspiring other people to paint and express their creativity. One of my favorite quotes from him is, 'There's an artist inside every one of us.'"

Bracey credits Ross with making the art world more accessible, and her personal favorite tidbit about him comes from his years as a drill sergeant in Alaska. "When he left the service, he said, 'I never want to yell at people again,'" she noted.

Like Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross is unique in that his popularity has withstood the test of time, which Bracey attributes to how soothing Ross continues to be in our increasingly chaotic times.

"There's so much business to our lives and outside stimulation, it's almost like meditation to be calmed by his soothing tones and his really positive approach to things," she said. "We could all use a little more Bob Ross in our lives."

And if you're looking for even more positivity, check out Colorado Dad Goes Viral for His Hilarious Dad Jokes on Community Center Sign.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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