Richard Allen Rush was born on October 16, 1946 in Mobile, Alabama. From an early age, it was obvious to his mother and father, friends, and teachers, that “Rick” had a fondness and talent for drawing. Rick was also a gifted athlete; he was starting quarterback at his high school and 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 watching and participating in 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 went to work for Southern Living Magazine in Atlanta, Georgia. After a short time, he was promoted to Manager at Southern Living Gallery of Oxmoor House in Birmingham, Alabama.
In 1974, an ad appeared in the New Yorker magazine featuring four line drawings of tennis players by an unknown artist by the name of 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 it inspired Rick 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.
In November of 1980, Rick was invited to visit President Jimmy Carter. Two of his pieces are now a part of the Jimmy Carter Library Museum and Library in Atlanta, Georgia.
Rick established his own studio in 1982 to create his hand done serigraphs. Rush Galleries officially incorporated into Jireh Publishing International (JIREH).
Rick was honored in 1989 with an invitation to the White House. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby invited Rick to join him in a visit with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office. Rick and Don were able to meet President Reagan and present him with a number of serigraph prints. These prints are now part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California.
In 1999, Rick Rush and Jireh Publishing made headlines across the globe. In a modern day David and Goliath, Tiger Woods’ ETW Corporation sued Rick Rush for painting the golfer’s likeness without permission. Despite having nowhere near the resources of a Tiger Woods, Rick Rush stood by his art as a form of free speech. Finally in 2003, the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals decided in Rush’s favor – the First Amendment protects an artist’s expression as a freedom of speech over a celebrity’s right of publicity.
In 2011, Rick Rush was named the United States Sports Academy’s Sport Artist Of The Year.