Bob Ross-inspired painting contest challenges boro artists

The Brooklyn Paper
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Bushwick artists are at the cutting edge of contemporary art, but can they paint a happy tree?

A neighborhood competition is calling on all painters to take up the brush in a true test of artistic skill to see whose mountains sing, whose streams are chipper, and in the end, who can out-mellow amateur landscape painting master Bob Ross.

The worry-free television instructor’s near-perfect landscapes delighted casual viewers of PBS for years in the ’80s and ’90s — so this contest is to painters what a mac-and-cheese cook-off is for chefs: an accessible way for artists to show off their talents.

“At the end of the day, I want to attract real artists, but I don’t want to be like, ‘Paint an awesome painting.’ ” said Matt Timms, who has created a series food takedowns — crowd-judged, no-rules, amateur culinary competitions — and is hosting his first art takedown and auction for charity on March 24.

“[But] If I say, ‘Paint like Bob Ross,’ they’ll say, ‘Oh, ha ha, Bob Ross sucks, I can do better’ and paint something awesome.’ ”

And while out-painting Bob Ross won’t be a challenge for most of the working artists in the neighborhood, participants must shed any inbred sense of Williamsburg irony and embrace their inner Bob Ross, as corny as it may feel.

“People sometimes get all cynical about Williamsburg and Bushwick, but I hope they throw that away, because this is really a for-charity event,” he said of the contest, which will have Six Point beers on sale for the benefit of Citymeals-On-Wheels.

Timms is still looking for artists who are ready to get together in a room to paint their best landscape paintings for a crowd to judge, leaving the top three winners up to a vote. Champs will go home with gift certificates from Utrecht art supplies, and their paintings will be auctioned.

Timms promises that showing up with a Ross-inspired ’fro is not required.

The Painting Takedown at The Active Space (566 Johnson Ave. at Stewart Avenue in Bushwick, March 24, 6 pm, free, email

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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