America's Sports Artist
Richard Allen Rush was born on October 16, 1946 in Mobile, Alabama. From an early age, it was obvious that “Rick” had a fondness and talent for drawing. Rick was also a gifted athlete; he was starting quarterback at his high school where an early claim to fame was leading his team to victory over Foley, led by future Super Bowl XI winner Ken Stabler. His two gifts were harmoniously interwoven, but his true calling was in art. Because of Rick’s love for sports, he felt a natural subject for his art would be the sporting life in America. “Artists paint or write about things that are close to them,” Rick often says, “Hemingway related to bullfighting, the sea, and war – I relate to sports.”
Rick studied art under the late Richard Brough at the University of Alabama, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1972. After graduating, he headed Southern Living Magazine’s Southern Living Gallery, where he coordinated promotions of art publications. At Southern Living Rick worked with, and befriended, George Rodrigue, Hubert Shruptrine and James Dickey; artists, who all encouraged him both personally and professionally. In 1974, an ad appeared in the New Yorker magazine featuring four line drawings of tennis players by an unknown artist named Rick Rush. This was the beginning of a career that has spanned nearly forty years. The lithographed, signed and numbered Tennis: First Set was successful enough that Rick was inspired to pursue a career of painting not just as a second-job, but for a living. In 1975, Rick moved back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and partnered with his brother, Don, in creating Rush Galleries.
Rick established his own studio in 1982 to create his hand done serigraphs using as a blueprint the studio of Norman Lassiter, who printed for numerous artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Rick’s hand-done serigraphs have been created in-house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ever since. Ricks work is sold in every state of the United States. Soon following, Rush Galleries officially incorporated into Jireh Publishing International.
For almost four decades, Rick has devoted his energies to painting the sporting life in America. Rick’s trademark sporting impressionism captures the spirit, as well as the technical accuracy, of sports events. Throughout his career, Rick has worked with and depicted numerous high-profile sports figures such as Joe Namath, Coach Paul Bear Bryant, Muhammad Ali, Albert Pujols, Nolan Ryan, Bo Jackson and countless others. Upon invitation, Rick has met with governors, senators and congressmen. He has twice been invited to the White House to meet with the President of the United States. Rick’s pieces are displayed in the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Georgia, and in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California. His works portray subjects of historic significance ranging from the Olympics, to Super Bowls and World Series, to Collegiate National Championships. In 2011, the United States Sports Academy and the American Sports Art Museum and Archives named Rick Rush the Sport Artist Of The Year.
Rick and Jireh Publishing made headlines across the globe in a modern day David and Goliath story. When, In 1999, Tiger Woods’ ETW Corporation sued Rick Rush for painting the golfer’s likeness without permission. Despite having nowhere near the resources of Tiger Woods, Rick stood by his art as a form of free speech. In 2003, the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled in Rick’s favor – the First Amendment protects an artist’s expression as a freedom of speech over a celebrity’s right of publicity. After successfully defending the American Artist’s right to depict historical events, Rick and Don earned a world-wide reputation as defenders of the Freedom of Speech. He and Don then founded Artists for the First Amendment, a foundation designed to develop young artists through scholarship opportunities and to encourage the art community as they take a stance for First Amendment Rights. Rick loves bringing stories of victory to life as he captures game changing events. Continuing his passion for bringing together sports, victories and education, Rick has partnered with Deaf, Inc. of St. Louis to create artistic reminders of the hurdles and victories throughout the deaf community. Five individual Giclées were created from Rick’s original oil painting for Deaf Inc.; these five Giclées will be presented throughout the United States as historic reminders of triumph.
In May of 2014, Rick, and Jireh, suffered a great loss with the passing of brother and business partner, Don. In order to carry on the dream that he and Don had for Jireh Publishing, Rick did what he knew Don would want and he retreated to his studio to paint and plan. Early on Rick learned as an artist, that those who operate within the creative realm of art and literature stay true to themselves, their knowledge, and their experiences. Drawing on his passion for preserving success stories, and believing that there is triumph over tragedy, Rick began to focus on the recent, late-game, triumph of Auburn University. Living in Alabama, where the Iron Bowl clash between the Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers is the stuff of legend, this game served as more than a state rivalry game – this game made sports history as Auburn returned what should have been a game winning field goal for the Crimson Tide. This return was historic - 109 yards with no time left on the clock - giving Auburn a great victory over Alabama. Response throughout the art community revealed that Destiny Defeats Dynasty was one of Rick’s best works to date. This piece will always serve as reminder to Rick and to the art community that triumphs are birthed from a will to overcome.
Rick’s art captures the essence of sport. His paintings portray the American sports scene at its best, holding on to unforgettable moments that are suspended in time and space, memories on canvas, split seconds that spell the difference between a win or a loss. In sport, these moments come suddenly and leave just as quickly.
In the art of Rick Rush, these moments live on forever.