I almost titled this blog post “Happy little Trees,” one of the many catchphrases Bob Ross is famous for uttering on his television show. We could use a few of these happy trees here in Indiana. During this past winter, we experienced grey skies, freezing temperatures, and a late-season snowstorm. I won’t waste my time talking about all the pandemic drama or the recent presidential election and recovering from the Knee Replacement Boogie. Rooster and I both felt “happy little trees” at The Bob Ross Experience, the perfect theme for our Saturday outing.
Furthermore, we found it encouraging Minnestrista offered The Bob Ross Experience to the general public. It is an indication that museums and public events are opening again. We plugged 1200 N. Minnetrista Parkway Muncie, Indiana, into our phone and pointed our Chevy Spark toward Minnetrista.
Bob Ross was an American painter, art instructor, and television host who created and presented The Joy of Painting on PBS. He became famous for his wet-and-wet method of oil painting landscapes. His calm voice encouraged his students to create happy little trees and clouds. I never attempted to recreate any of his works, but I did find myself entranced by his show. Many afternoons, my television was tuned into the PBS station. I sat and watched him paint landscapes while my children played.
How Bob Ross came to live in Muncie, Indiana
Ross took a painting class while stationed in Alaska with the Air Force. This dapple into art started his life-long adventure into the world of oil-painting. He filmed the first season of The Joy of Painting in Virginia. After a short visit to Muncie, Ross signed to have his show filmed at WIPB, located in an old yellow brick house that belonged to Lucius L. Ball. This house is part of the Minnetrista Campus. Ross’s studio was on the first floor of the house. He continued filming there for ten years, which amounted to thirty seasons. The show’s final seasons moved to the Ball State campus. PBS canceled The Joy of Painting in 1994. Ross died from complications from lymphoma in 1995. Our adventure at the Bob Ross Experience.
Our adventure at the Bob Ross Experience
Rooster and I thought the Bob Ross Experience would be housed in the Center Building on the Minnetrista Campus. We walked through the front door of this impressive building to discover we’d come to the wrong place. The lady behind the desk gave us a map and attempted to explain the directions to the L.L. Ball home. As soon as we turned back onto the road, we knew we were lost. The map made absolutely no sense to us. Rooster called the front desk and discovered that if we’d continued to follow the road to the left, there was a one-way road that took a traveler to the front of the L.L. Ball house. The path we chose drove us past the rear of the house, where there wasn’t an entrance onto the property.
Once we found the right road, we located the Bob Ross Experience with no problem. It made perfect sense to have the exhibition in the L.L. Ball house. The Joy of Painting episodes filmed in the front rooms of the house went out to thousands of viewers. An unnerving sensation traveled through me as we walked into the reconstructed studio and Ross’s calm voice played over a sound system. A display of the actual easel and cameras used while taping the show seemed a little eerie. The only thing missing was Ross and his camera crew. A display case at the back of the room held artifacts collected from the actual studio operation.
Stage two in the Bob Ross Experience
We wandered into an area that looked like a typical living room where a person might watch The Joy of Painting. A Bob Ross documentary played while we studied the items in the space. Bob Ross knew the importance of branding before the practice became the essential thing for artists, writers, and celebrities to do. He wasn’t above having his face on a toaster, a Chia Pet, or a PEZ dispenser. Bob and his advisers became so good at creating his brand he was a millionaire by the time he died.
I discovered many interesting facts about Bob Ross during our time exploring his studio. The young lady sitting at the door had a lot of information about the artist. He was a collector of antiques, and he drove an old blue camper all over Muncie. Pet squirrels were sometimes his studio companions.
The Bob Ross Experience at Oakhurst
We walked next door to Oakhurst to enjoy the second part of the Bob Ross Experience. This exhibit consisted of a series of paintings done by Ross and his students. They were donated by people who wanted to be a part of the exhibition. We couldn’t take any pictures of these wonderful paintings because Minnetrista doesn’t own them. Rooster and I walking past the pictures hung in the rooms upstairs, admiring ross’s work and that of some of his students.
My thoughts on the life of Bob Ross
Bob Ross was an ordinary guy who brought the concept of creating art to ordinary people. His calming voice and steady hand gave people the idea they could paint too. The encouraging words he used when he painted his happy little trees and clouds gave people confidence. The Joy of Painting proved art wasn’t for only the elite anymore. People didn’t have to travel to a museum to see a great painting when they could do one themselves and hang it in their living room. Bob Ross is someone I would have liked to have known.
The Catalyst at Minnetrista
The sculpture created by Beverly Stucker standing in front of the Center
Building at Minnetrista is fully repaired. When we were there last time,
the stained glass portion of the sculpture was missing. The catalyst
looked impressive, catching the rays from the afternoon sun.
Who is Molly Shea?
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