Bob Ross

Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

Whether or not you’re artistically inclined, there’s a good chance that you, like millions of others, have been captivated by Bob Ross’s instructional landscape paintings and soothing voice.

In fact, it was his dulcet tones that caught Annette Kowalski’s attention. Kowalski—credited as the woman who "discovered" Bob Ross—took a five-day instructional course with Ross in 1982. The classes had originally been the brainchild of Bill Alexander, an Emmy Award-winning TV painter who used a more exuberant version of Ross’s positive patter. When Alexander stopped teaching, he tapped Ross, his protégé, to take over.

Though Kowalski had originally hoped to take the course with Alexander, she quickly became enamored with Ross’s calming voice and positive messages. In addition to newfound painting skills, Kowalski left the class with a new client—she became Ross’s manager, helping him broker the deal for The Joy of Painting television show with PBS, and later, a line of Bob Ross art supplies.

Though Ross's shows seemed effortless, the paintings didn’t come as easy as they appeared to. Though he liked to talk about “happy accidents” on camera, Ross was a perfectionist. He recreated each painting on his show at least three times: One was used off-camera as a reference for the seemingly impromptu painting he did on-air; he painted the second one during the show; and he created a third, more detailed version for his instruction books.

His lines about happy trees and friendly clouds weren't ad-libbed, either. “He told me he would lay in bed at night and plan every word. He knew exactly what he was doing,” Kowalski has said.

The careful planning paid off. A hit with artists and non-artists alike, The Joy of Painting ran for an impressive 403 episodes over 31 seasons. Ross knew his pieces weren’t exactly Van Goghs, but that was never the goal. Most people, he said, didn’t watch the show with the goal of learning to paint like the masters—they simply watched to unwind: “We’ve gotten letters from people who say they sleep better when the show is on.”

The Happy Painter had more up his sleeve—a non-painting children's show was in the works, for one—when he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1994. The Joy of Painting was canceled in order to give Ross time to focus on his health, but he passed away the following year, at the age of 52.

Stacy Conradt

If you'd like to pay your respects—maybe with some cheerful little woodland creatures like the ones above—you can find Bob Ross at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Florida. While his headstone may be understated and unassuming, there's no doubt who it belongs to.

Tim Burton’s Art Exhibition at Las Vegas’s Neon Museum Now Has Tickets On Sale

A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what might be on display at the Neon Museum
A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what might be on display at the Neon Museum
The Vox Agency

Last year, The Neon Museum in Las Vegas announced that it would be hosting an exhibition of fine art by Tim Burton in 2019. Anticipation has been high ever since: The Vegas show will mark the filmmaker's first major art exhibition in the United States since his work was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York a decade ago. Now, tickets for the October event are finally on sale.

Tim Burton is best known as the director of such movies as Batman (1989), Beetlejuice (1988), and Edward Scissorhands (1990), but he got his start as an artist. His distinct drawing style even got him a job at Disney's animation division in the early 1980s.

The Neon Museum exhibition will feature works that have been displayed previously, as well as sculptures and digital installations created specifically for the space. A press release reads: "The presentation of Burton’s art in Las Vegas represents a unique experience where the host institution also serves as creative inspiration. The museum’s distinctive campus will be transformed through the artist’s singular vision for this original exhibition."

Pieces will be displayed at three locations across the museum campus: the outdoor Neon Boneyard (a "graveyard" for old neon signs), the North Gallery, and the City of Las Vegas’s Boneyard Park. In addition to the main show, there will be a separate, special exhibit after dark that combines projection mapping with the site's famous sign collection. As for the content of the artwork, the museum says Burton is looking to both his career history and the museum itself for inspiration. Although the museum wasn't ready to release images of specific artwork that will be featured in the show, they released some representative images.

"Lost Vegas: Tim Burton @ The Neon Museum Presented by the Engelstad Foundation” launches October 15, 2019, and will run through February 15, 2020. Tickets to the primary exhibit cost $30, and entrance to the nighttime spectacle will cost an extra $24. You can preorder tickets to both shows here.

A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what will be on display at the Neon Museum
A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what might be on display at the Neon Museum
The Vox Agency

A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what will be on display at the Neon Museum.
A Tim Burton sculpture representative of what might be on display at the Neon Museum
The Vox Agency

Edward Hopper’s Western Motel Is Being Turned Into a Hotel Room at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Western Motel, 1957, Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, B.A., 1903. © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Western Motel, 1957, Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, B.A., 1903. © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Some paintings are so good you can’t help but wish you could climb right inside of them and experience the details with all five senses, in all three dimensions. If Edward Hopper’s Western Motel brings about those sorts of feelings for you, now is your chance to live that dream.

As part of an exhibition called “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel,” Artnet News reports that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is constructing a real, live motel room modeled on the artwork that you can actually book for a night.

Much like Nighthawks and Hopper's other paintings, 1957’s Western Motel isn’t exactly a warm and cozy depiction of the hospitality industry. The featured room—which is furnished with two sturdy red sofas, a chair, a small table, and a reedy lamp—is so neat it seems almost characterless. A well-dressed woman with impeccable posture perches atop a couch, looking expectant. It evokes the sense of alienation that permeated so many of Hopper’s influential pieces focused on life in the modern world: lonely people hunched over tables and gazing out windows, failing to connect with their surroundings in a way that makes you, the viewer, uncomfortably aware of your own static energy.

While pieces like Western Motel seem to hint that Hopper himself was something of a gloomy introvert, exhibition curator Dr. Leo G. Mazow hopes that "Edward Hopper and the American Hotel" will set the record straight. The exhibition "endeavors to consider hotels, motels, and other transient dwellings as vital subject matter for Hopper and as a framework with which to understand his entire body of work," Mazow stated in a press release.

In addition to 60 of Hopper’s works and another 35 from his contemporaries, the exhibition will also feature diary entries and postcards from Hopper’s wife and fellow artist, Josephine. As the press release explains, these artifacts "humanize the artist and his wife, providing detailed accounts of their travels in their own words and personal responses to the places they visited, their experiences there, and how these trips informed their art."

The "Hopper Hotel Experience" will offer a number of different packages that, in addition to spending a night at the museum in a room modeled after Hopper's painting, will include everything from dinner at Amuse, the VMFA’s fine dining restaurant, to a guided tour of the exhibition with Mazow.

Information on how to book an overnight stay will made available closer to the exhibition's October 26th opening. But you don’t have to commit to a museum sleepover in order to step inside the artwork; you can also just take a walk around it during museum hours.

[h/t Artnet News]

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