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Bob Ross’s work from the first episode of ‘The Joy of Painting’ is on sale for nearly $10 million

MINNEAPOLIS– What would Bob Ross think?

The artist who brought painting to the public, with works completed for PBS viewers in less than half an hour with little more than a large paintbrush, a putty knife and lots of encouragement, does would certainly not have imagined that one of his works would grow. for sale for nearly $10 million.

But that’s the price a Minneapolis gallery is asking for “A Walk in the Woods,” the first of more than 400 paintings Ross produced on air for his television series “The Joy of Painting.”

“It’s the first season, the first episode of what you would call the Bob Ross rookie card,” Modern Artifact gallery owner Ryan Nelson said of the work created during the series’ debut. , broadcast on January 11, 1983.

Growing up in a small town, Nelson said he was introduced to art through Ross’ exhibition and loved his paintings. He does not expect a quick sale given the high asking price, which he sees as an opportunity to expose the painting to a wider audience.

At his first exhibition where he painted “A Walk in the Woods,” Ross – sporting his beloved perm, thick beard and unbuttoned shirt – emphasized that painting need not be pretentious.

“We avoided painting for so long because I think all our lives we were told that you had to go to school half your life, maybe even that you had to be blessed by Michel- Angel at birth, to be able to paint a picture one day,” Ross said. “And here we want to show you that that’s not true. That you can draw a picture.”

Ross, who died in 1995, hosted the show from 1983 to 1994. In each episode, he spoke directly to viewers, encouraging them to paint with him while creating idealized scenes of mountain-backed streams, waterfalls and rustic cabins and mills – – everything was done very quickly.

None of Ross’s paintings, including “A Walk in the Woods,” could be mistaken for masterpieces. But that wasn’t the point.

“This work represents the people’s artist,” Nelson said. “It’s not an institution that tells you that Bob Ross is great. It’s not a high profile gallery that tells you that Bob Ross is great. It’s the masses, the world population that says that Bob Ross is awesome. “

The first season of “The Joy of Painting” was filmed in Falls Creek, Virginia, and the painting from Ross’s first exhibition was sold months later to raise money for the local PBS station. A station volunteer bought the painting for an undisclosed price and hung it in her home for 39 years until contacting Nelson, who bought and sold more than 100 of Ross’s works.

Nelson bought the painting last year and later gave it a “not for sale” price of $9.85 million, publicist Megan Hoffman said.

Hoffman said the asking price is much higher than any other Ross painting has sold for, but “A Walk in the Woods” is unique and Nelson isn’t looking for a quick sale. She notes that Ross’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with 5.63 million subscribers to a YouTube channel featuring his shows.

“Ryan would rather take it out, take it to museums and things like that so people can enjoy it and appreciate it,” Hoffman said. “He will accept offers but he is in no rush to sell it.”


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