Bob Ross Expertise: Go to the TV painter’s Indiano studio

(CNN) – Positivity, Creativity and Happy Accidents.

Anyone could use more of it in 2020, and the new Bob Ross Experience in Muncie, Indiana delivers it with vibrancy and, of course, joy.

Last month, a permanent exhibition opened at Minnetrista (a public hangout with historic buildings in Muncie) to honor the late Bob Ross and his belief in the democratization of artistic expression through painting. The museum is located in the Lucius L. Ball House, one of the many historic buildings on the 40 acre campus. The house was formerly the home of Ball, whose younger brothers founded the Ball Glass Company. The house was later converted into a studio where Ross shot much of his legendary show “The Joy of Painting”.

Guests can now walk through the former studio that has been renovated to be a near-exact replica of Ross’s time. The exhibition’s curators worked closely with Ross’ friends to create a hands-on, behind-the-scenes storytelling experience, said Katy Maggart, communications manager at Minnetrista.

On the opening day, a Bob Ross episode played outside for visitors to paint.

Courtesy of Minnetrista

“We didn’t want this to be something Bob commercialized or made him something he wasn’t,” said Maggart. “Our goal is to honor Bob and continue to help share his message of creativity and positivity.”

Guests can see rare artifacts, including the original cameras that were used to film Ross’s famous television show. Paintings are on display that are changed every few months so guests can see new artwork each time they visit.

People flocked to the grand opening weekend on October 31st, dressed in their best Bob Ross Halloween costumes. Regardless of the holiday, Maggart said they still encouraged fans to dress up.

Bob Ross fans from across the country came in their best Bob Ross costumes for the opening day.

Bob Ross fans from across the country came in their best Bob Ross costumes for the opening day.

Courtesy of Minnetrista

A Bob Ross experience wouldn’t be complete without a palette and brush, so there are painting workshops on the premises. Classes take place twice a month.

To teach a Bob Ross painting class, the instructor must become a Certified Ross Instructor, or CRI for short. You will complete a three-week intensive course in New Smyrna Beach, Florida at Bob Ross Inc. to earn your certification.

Faye Fletcher is CRI and has been teaching painting classes with Bob Ross around the world for 18 years. She was one of the lucky few CRIs selected to teach at the opening of the Bob Ross Experience.

“I’m still pinching that they would choose me,” said Fletcher. “I am incredibly honored and humbled.”

At the kick-off event, Fletcher taught a class of students how to paint “Under Pastel Skies.” In one class, a woman told Fletcher that she had come to class to see if she was worth buying art supplies .

“You’re worth it if you don’t paint well,” said Fletcher. “She painted well.”

In addition to teaching the group class, Fletcher was also selected to teach a private workshop in the actual studio where Ross filmed his program – a very rare opportunity.

CRI Faye Fletcher taught a private painting class for Tammi-Lynn and Wayne Matteson, who were donors to the Bob Ross Experience.

CRI Faye Fletcher taught a private painting class for Tammi-Lynn and Wayne Matteson, who were donors to the Bob Ross Experience.

Faye Fletcher

“It was amazing to look past my easel a little and see exactly where Bob was standing. You can kind of hear him laughing,” Fletcher said.

The sold out opening was successful, but not without challenges. The exhibition planners weren’t sure if the event would be due to the coronavirus, but they worked with local health professionals to make sure the event was safe.

Face masks are required and capacity is closely monitored. Only 15 people per hour are allowed to enter the studio exhibition via a time card system.

The positive attitude that Ross brought to his show is something the world needs even more now, Maggart said. They started planning the exhibition in 2018 without realizing how many people would need a little Bob Ross this year.

Fletcher also turned to Ross as she was going through her own dark season in her life. While battling depression in 2001, she raised her birthday money and bought a Bob Ross paint set. And when she started painting, she couldn’t stop.

“I teach Bob Ross painting because Bob put brushes in the hands of so many people who had never painted before, and I really love being part of this first step in an artist’s life,” said Fletcher.

Tickets for the exhibition and painting workshops can be found on minnetrista.net.

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