Rush, Olive, 1873-1966

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Painter, mural painter; Santa Fe, N.M.

From the description of Olive Rush interview, 1963 Nov. 13 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79951127

From the description of Oral history interview with Olive Rush, 1963 Nov. 13 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 312026291

Olive Rush (1873-1966) was a painter, illustrator, and muralist from Sante Fe, N.M.

Studied at the Art Students League with Twatchman and Mowbray and the Howard Pyle School. Muralist for the La Fonda Hotel and Public Library, Sante Fe; WPA murals: United States Post Office, Florence, Colo. and Pawhuska, Okla. Illustrator for Collier's, & Scribners. Specialities: women, children, American Indians, frescos.

From the description of Olive Rush papers, 1879-1967. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220233656

Olive Rush was born in Fairmount, Indiana in 1875 to a Quaker farm family of six children, and attended nearby Earlham College, a Quaker school with a studio art program. Encouraged by her teacher, Rush enrolled in the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1890, where she stayed for two years and achieved early recognition for her work. In 1893, Rush joined the Indiana delegation of artists to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

In 1894, she moved to New York City and continued her studies at the Art Students League with Henry Siddons Mowbray, John Twachtman, and Augustus St. Gaudens. She secured her first job as an illustrator with Harper and Brothers and quickly started doing additional illustration work for Good Housekeeping, Scribner's, The Delineator, Woman's Home Companion, Sunday Magazine, and St. Nicholas Magazine . Rush also became a staff artist at the New York Tribune and illustrated several books.

In 1904, Rush sent an inquiry with samples of her work to master illustrator Howard Pyle, who had established what was then the only school of illustration in the country in Wilmington, Delaware. There he provided free instruction to a small number hand-picked artists culled from hundreds of applicants. Although Pyle did not admit women to his studio, he encouranged her to come and join the class for lectures and criticisms. Rush moved to Delaware later that year, joining a growing number of female illustrators there including Ethel Pennewill Brown (later Leach), Blanche Chloe Grant, Sarah Katherine Smith, and Harriet Roosevelt Richards, among others. Rush and her female colleagues lived together in a boarding house known as Tusculum, which became well-known as a gathering place for women artists.

Rush traveled to Europe in 1910, embarking on a period of intense study and travel which would mark a steady transition from illustration to painting. She studied at Newlyn in Cornwall, England and then in France with the American impressionist Richard E. Miller. She returned to Wilmington in 1911, where she moved into Pyle's studio with Ethel Pennewill Brown. Rush bounced to New York, Boston, and back to France, where she lived for a time with fellow artists Alice Schille, Ethel Pennewill Brown, and Orville Houghton Peets. Her reputation grew, and she began to exhibit regularly in major national and regional juried exhibitions including the Carnegie, Pennsylvania Academy, and Corcoran annual exhibitions, as well as the Hoosier Salon.

In 1914, Rush made her first trip to Arizona and New Mexico. Passing through Santa Fe on her return trip, Rush made contact with the artists community at the Museum of New Mexico, where she secured an impromptu solo exhibition after showing her new work, inspired by the landscape of the Southwest. She made Santa Fe her permanent home in 1920 in an adobe cottage on Canyon Road, which became a main thoroughfare of the Santa Fe artists' community.

Rush began to experiment with fresco painting, and developed her own techniques suitable to the local climate. She became a sought-after muralist and was asked to create frescoes for many private homes and businesses. In her painting, she often depicted the Native American dances and ceremonies she attended. She exhibited these paintings around the country, including with the Society of Independent Artists in New York, and in the Corcoran Annual Juried exhibition, where Mrs. Herbert Hoover and Duncan Phillips both purchased her work.

In 1932, Rush was hired to teach at the Santa Fe Indian School. Rush's enthusiastic work in the 1930s with the young pueblo artists is credited with helping to bring about a flourishing of Native American visual art in New Mexico. Rush continued to work with native artists throughout her life, and many of her associates went on to gain national reputations, including Harrison Begay, Awa-Tsireh, Pop Chalee, Pablita Valerde, and Ha-So-De (Narciso Abeyta).

From 1934 to 1939, Rush executed murals for the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and the Federal Art Project (FAP) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Rush's federal art projects included murals for the Santa Fe Public Library (1934), the Biology Building of the New Mexico Agricultural College (1935), the Pawhuska, Oklahoma Post Office (1938), and the Florence, Colorado Post Office (1939). Rush was also asked to join the Advisory Committee on Indian Art created by the PWAP in 1934, to help administer a segment of the program aimed at employing Native American artists.

In her later years, Rush's artwork became increasingly experimental, incorporating the ideas of Chinese painting, Native American art, and her contemporaries, the modernists, especially Wassily Kandinsky. She continued painting and exhibiting until 1964, when illness prohibited her from working. She died in 1966, leaving her home and studio to the Santa Fe Society of Friends.

Sources consulted for this biography include Olive Rush: A Hoosier Artist in New Mexico (1992) by Stanley L. Cuba, and Almost Forgotten: Delaware Women Artists and Arts Patrons 1900-1950 (2002) by Janice Haynes Gilmore.

From the guide to the Olive Rush papers, 1879-1967, (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Rush, Olive, 1873-1966,. Oral history interview with Olive Rush, 1963 Nov. 13 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Olive Rush and Corcoran School of Art class [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf John Herron Art Institute. Wilbur D. Peat correspondence, 1929-1936. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Wells, Cady, 1904-1954. Cady Wells papers, 1913-1968. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rush, Olive, 1873-1966. Olive Rush interview, 1963 Nov. 13 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Tamotsu, Chūzō, 1888-1975. Chuzo Tamotzu papers, 1920-1982. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rush, Olive, 1873-1966. Olive Rush : artist file : study photographs and reproductions of works of art with accompanying documentation 1930?-1990 [graphic] [compiled by staff of The Museum of Modern Art, New York]. Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection
referencedIn Women in New Mexico Collection, 1976-ongoing University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn Witter Bynner papers, 1829-1965. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Maynard, Richard Field, 1875-1964. Richard Field Maynard papers, 1895-1979. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Museum of Fine Arts (Museum of New Mexico). Museum of Fine Arts exhibition vertical file, 1917-[ongoing]. Museum of New Mexico Library
referencedIn Portraits from the Cassidy Family Papers [graphic], ca. 1897-ca. 1965 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Rush, Olive, 1873-1966. Olive Rush papers, 1879-1967. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Rush, Olive : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Olive Rush papers, 1879-1967 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf John Herron Art Institute. Wilbur D. Peat correspondence, 1929-1936. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rush, Olive, 1873-1966. Olive Rush : artist file. Indianapolis Museum of Art Library
referencedIn Public Works of Art Project (N.M.). PWAP reports by Gustave Baumann, 1934. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968 person
associatedWith Federal Art Project (N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Federal Art Project (N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Indianapolis Museum of Art Stout Reference Library. corporateBody
associatedWith John Herron Art Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Loomis, Sylvia Glidden, person
associatedWith Maynard, Richard Field, 1875-1964. person
associatedWith Museum of Fine Arts (Museum of New Mexico) corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project. corporateBody
associatedWith New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project (N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Tamotsu, Chūzō, 1888-1975. person
associatedWith United States corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Wells, Cady, 1904-1954. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New Mexico--Sante Fe
New Mexico--Santa Fe
New Mexico--Santa Fe
Indiana
New Mexico--Santa Fe
Subject
Muralists--New Mexico--Santa Fe
Vertical files (Libraries)
Mural painting and decoration
Women painters
Mural painting and decoration--20th century
Muralists
Illustrators--New Mexico--Santa Fe
Muralists--Interviews
American Indians in art
Painters--New Mexico--Santa Fe
Art--American (?)--Reproductions
Painters
Illustrators
Federal aid to the arts
Mural Painting and decoration--20th century--New Mexico--Santa Fe
Women painters--New Mexico--Santa Fe
Artists
Art and state
Women artists
Art, American
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1873-06-10

Death 1966-08-20

Americans

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6pr91xj

Ark ID: w6pr91xj

SNAC ID: 38851610