Paul Everett Barr was born November 25, 1892, in Tipton County, Indiana. Barr's first exhibit was at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, when he was only 11 years old. Barr grew up on an Indiana farm until he graduated from Tipton High School in 1911. He attended eight colleges and universities and received both A.B. and M.A. degrees. He received a Brevet de Histoire de l'Art et Archeologie from the University of Paris and also studied at the Sorbonne under a foreign scholarship from the Institute of International Education. He married the former Margaret Libby (daughter of Orin G. Libby) on June 8, 1932. Barr was the first artist to paint extensively in the North Dakota Badlands. This region appealed to him greatly because of its grandeur and majesty. He also traveled extensively in America and abroad, and painted everywhere he went.
His work was displayed throughout the country, including Grand Forks, Chicago, Miami, Washington D.C., New York City, "Rockefeller Center," Kansas City, and West Palm Beach, Florida. For nine years Barr was state chairman for American Art Week. During that time, North Dakota received two national awards, and several names of artists in the state were added to the Honor Roll of the American Artists Professional League. Barr received this citation of honor in 1947. Barr also headed the Art Department at the University of North Dakota from 1928 until his death on December 22, 1953. He was in a Grand Forks hospital due to a stroke he suffered on December 14. Before his death, he researched the history of artists in the state for a book titled North Dakota Artists. The book was published posthumously in 1954.