Photograph of Olive Rush, c. 1910. Students of Howard Pyle Files, Helen Farr Sloan Library, Delaware Art Museum
Olive Rush
Date: American painter and illustrator, 1873–1966
Biography: Olive Rush (1873 Fairmount, Indiana -1966 Santa Fe NM) was a life-long Quaker. At 17, she spent one year at Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana) and then attended the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC. From 1894 to 1898, she was enrolled at the Art Students League in New York where she studied with John Twachtman, H. Siddons Mowbra,y and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. By 1898 her illustrations were appearing in St. Nicholas, Scribner's, and other magazines; in that year she received her first book-illustration commission. She was also working as a staff artist for the New York Tribune.

In 1899, she moved to Philadelphia and worked as a commercial artist, while continuing to do easel painting in her spare time. In 1907, already established as an illustrator, Rush moved to Delaware and began studies with Howard Pyle. In Wilmington she did some mural painting, including a 5-panel reredos for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. She also designed a large stained-glass window for a private home.

Rush spent 1910 in Paris, studying at the Richard Miller Class for Painters. In early 1911, she returned to Wilmington where she and Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach occupied the studio of Howard Pyle while he was abroad, until his death in late 1911.

Rush then took more art instruction, studying with Frank Benson, William Paxton, and Edmund Tarbell at the Boston Museum School. She returned to Europe for the summer of 1913. For the next 5 years, she worked as a commercial artist in New York City, until relocating to Indianapolis.

From her studio there, she was a sought-after portraitist and a muralist for the public schools. She also designed bookplates. In 1914, she traveled to Santa Fe (NM), where she had her first exhibition at the city's new art museum. In 1920, she settled in Santa Fe for the remainder of her life. Her skill at fresco that would last in the southwestern climate won her private clients and requests to decorate public buildings. In 1929, she did fresco decoration for the dining room of the La Fonda Hotel, owned by the Santa Fe Railroad, featuring New Mexico figure scenes, native plants and animals. She was then employed by the Santa Fe Indian School to oversee mural painting by the students for their dining room; she encouraged them to use the artistic styles of their Indian heritage.

Rush also did mural work for the Public Works Art Project (WPA), including a mural for the entryway of the Santa Fe Public Library; the biology building of New Mexico State University at Las Cruces, and a number of post offices.

In Santa Fe, Rush was friendly with Georgia O'Keeffe, whom she had known in New York City.

Rush bequeathed her home to the Society of Friends.

A Small School of Art. Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes, editors. Delaware Art Museum. 1980.
Almost Forgotten: Delaware Women Artists and Arts Patrons 1900-1950,by Jann Haynes Gilmore. Dover: The Biggs Museum. 2002