Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: The Bob Ross Phenomenon

Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: The Bob Ross Phenomenon


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Readers will know Bob Ross (1942-1995) as the gentle, afro'd painter of happy trees on PBS. And while the Florida-born artist is reviled or ignored by the elite art world and scholarly art educators, he continues to be embraced around the globe as a healer and painter, even decades after his death. In Happy Clouds, Happy Trees, the authors thoughtfully explore how the Bob Ross phenomenon grew into a juggernaut.

Although his sincerity in embracing democracy, gift economies, conservation, and self-help may have left him previously denigrated as a subject of rigorous scholarship, this book uses contemporary art theory to explore the sophistication of Bob Ross's vision as an artist. It traces the ways in which his many fans have worshiped, emulated, and parodied him and his work. His technique allowed him to paint over 35,000 paintings in his lifetime, mostly of mountains and trees in landscapes heavily influenced by his time in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska.

The authors address issues of amateur art, sentimentality, imitation, boredom, seduction, and democratic practices in the art world. They fully examine Ross as a painter, teacher, healer, media star, performer, magician, and networker. In-depth comparisons are made to Andy Warhol and Thomas Kinkade, and mention is made of his life in relation to Joseph Beuys, Elvis Presley, St. Francis of Assisi, Carl Rogers, and many other creative personalities. In the end, Happy Clouds, Happy Trees presents Ross as a gift giver, someone who freely teaches the act of painting to anyone who believes in Ross's vision that "this is your world."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617039959
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 364,869
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kristin G. Congdon is professor emerita of philosophy and humanities at the University of Central Florida. Her authored or coauthored books include American Folk Art: A Regional Reference and Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art (published by Unversity Press of Mississippi).

Doug Blandy is professor and senior vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Oregon. He has been published in Studies in Art Education and Art Education, among other journals, and has coedited five anthologies in art education.

Painter Danny Coeyman earned his MFA from Parsons in 2006 and received a Jack Kent Cooke Fellowship.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Bob Ross Phenomenon 3

Part I The Life and Times of Bob Ross

Chapter 2 Rob Ross, Birth to Death 15

Chapter 3 Promising Joy: Bob Ross as Artist and Teacher 27

Part II The Legendary Life of Bob Ross

Chapter 4 Bob Ross as Shaman 37

Chapter 5 Bob Ross as Media Star 47

Part III Reflection on Bob Ross and his Work

Chapter 6 Bob Ross as the Best-Known Teacher "Alive" 59

Chapter 7 Assessing Bob Ross's Paintings and His Approach to Art 69

Chapter 8 The Bob Ross Network 93

Chapter 9 Bob and Andy 107

Chapter 10 Thomas Kinkade Is No Bob Ross 115

Part IV Bob Ross Lives

Chapter 11 The Art World in the Midst of Bob Ross 141

Chapter 12 Bob Ross's Legacy 153

References 165

About the Images 175

About the Authors 177

Index 181

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