Short History: BORN in Japan near the end of 1949, Joseph lived his first years in an orphanage sponsored by American Armed Forces. He was adopted in the Spring of 1954 and came to the US at age 5 where he became an American citizen. Being career military, his adopted family lived many places, including Germany during Joseph’s childhood, but Joe thinks of his ‘hometown’ as Salinas, CA. That’s where his adoptive father, Fremont Orr, witnessed his last military assignment. Joseph attended High School, learned to surf and ‘came of age’ during the family’s short time there. As with anyone, the friendships and teenage experiences from these youthful years made Salinas a memorable time and place for Joe.
In retirement, Fremont and Leona Orr returned to their family home in Missouri, leaving Joseph in California to attend college. At the end of his first college year Joe traveled to Missouri to spend the summer and took what was to be a seasonal job in Kansas City. Life circumstances and a series of jobs kept him from returning to California that fall, or any subsequent one. In 1971 he took a job with Hallmark Cards. As machine operator he spent days watching the beautiful art work by the Hallmark artists flow through the folding machine. It sparked an interest, so after a few months he started visiting some of those artists at their work to seek private lessons. He learned watercolor and, “Probably before I was ready”, he admits, Joseph was entering local art shows and even winning prizes. By the end of 1972 Joseph had quit his day job to become a full time painter, joining an art show tour group. Word Of Art was a new concept: culture meets promotion, the brain child of an artist come promoter from Southern California. Booking weekly art exhibits in the new indoor shopping malls across America, he transformed part of the art world, bringing art to the masses, while promoting the shopping mall as a community gathering place. For Joe and many other artists in the early 70’s, it created the chance to paint full time and sell their work to an otherwise unobtainable audience.
The artist life is paved with adventure and intrigue. Throw a group of creative people from all walks of life together and you get doubles. The people with whom he formed friendships and alliances, the places he visited and exhibited work made the experience truely rich. During those years, early 1973 to early 1978, following the tour, Joe exhibited his work over an expanse of the Midwest, East and Southeast US, therefore, much of his early work may be found in homes and offices there. This experience enabled him to stick with his study of art, moving to acrylics early on, so that he is today considered one of the early champions of that medium. Taking up the new medium early in his career has rooted his seminal knowledge to the establishment of the medium. It also led to exhibit opportunities and friendships which paved the way for future venues. Believing that acrylic, as a fine art painting medium, can be as viable as oil, Orr has always promoted it as the modern medium that it is. In 1990 Joseph, along with his wife, Rita and two other artists, founded the National Oil & Acrylic Painter’s Society.(see photo of founders and board members below)
Life, for an artist, is more destiny than a charted course. Every road traveled leads to other paths. Joseph says that his journey has been at once exciting and challenging but at this point in his life, guite rewarding. Without a doubt, his paintings are counted among the important analog of works documenting and decorating the late 20th and early 21st century. Joseph Orr continues to paint and observe daily the landscape around him. You are invited to visit Joseph’s studio and gallery in Osage Beach, MO, or one of his gallery representatives coast to coast, to select a painting for your own enjoyment. Thank you for considering.
Above: the original board of directors of the National Oil & Acrylic Painter's Society at the opening of 'EXHIBIT '91', October 12, 1991, Columbia College, Lake Campus in Osage Beach, MO. From left: Wm R. Mullens, Dr. Don Ruthenberg, (President of Columbia College), *Dennis T. Yates, (artist), *Martha and *Wm Mitchell, *Pete Peterson, (artist), E. Ann Tabler, (PR/media specialist) *Joseph and *Rita Orr, (artists). *denotes the founders