Original article by Mike McKenzie, Executive Sports Editor, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate
For a seat on the 50 yard line or the climactic 18th green or the homestretch of memory's lane, join an artist on the move, an artist who sits a head above the crowd...Rick Rush. In living oil. Breathing
oil. And a mixed medium to leave a distinct and unique impression with you.
A Sporting Impression.
Join Rick, too, on a downhill slalom, a brisk sailing regatta, at the homestretch turn with greyhounds or racing cars. Or, on the field with the Crimson Tide as it rolls against Ohio State in a brilliantly portrayed "Sugar Bowl 1978," a work which has taken Rush's pursuit to a new plateau, in a marriage with Feather Press of Houston, Texas.
Rare, too, is the sensitivity and perception portrayed in Rush's latest and finest workmanship. The detail is infinite. To date, it culminates his method, his style and his achievements.
"Sugar Bowl, 1978" is an astute study in a moment frozen realistically in the pleasure chest of the mind. That is the aim of every Rick Rush sports impression. "Sports," he says, "provides both the color and motion to be so susceptible to catching one
moment and suspending it in time...so that the viewer can get the feel of what the sport is all about."
Relating to his work, Rush says "Sports is such an active and integral part of our lives. So what I'm doing is much like what the French Impressionists did...painting a lifestyle that will change. In 10 years, sports will probably evolve into something quite different from today. And, my style allows me the "feel" for what I want to convey...because viewers today are looking for
something to grab hold of, something with stability and identity."
To portray this identity of lifestyle involves far more than the daubing of brushes on canvas. Research is an integral part of Rush's "Sporting Impressionism," often consuming as much or more time than the painting. He spent days in the galleries at The Masters golf tournament and the Talledega 500, sailed in a regatta, sketched for days upon weeks at a football practice field where quarterbacks Richard Todd and Joe Namath worked out, and, in the creation of "Sugar Bowl, 1978" spent hours and hours scrutinizing excerpts from the game.
"Our collectors have a high degree of interest," Rick explains, "so I must be authentic."
For instance, when the original silkscreen of "Sugar Bowl, 1978" was presented to Coach Paul [Bear] Bryant, his coaching staff gathered to see the painting and offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Mal Moore commented immediately, "Look, Jeff (quarterback Rutledge) is looking at the defense the way he's supposed to, not at the handoff." So it is, that other sporting events have their nuances of authenticity and the slightest image or color
change can have dynamic impact on the entire work visually.
Where representationalism is the cornerstone for success, Rush "bleeds" the details into his portrayals of sport. This is achieved by tinting the surface one color, then building the impression with swashes and strokes of color. "At certain places, the background seems to bleed through the image as if you can see through the subject, as if it is a breath...something to be reckoned with only temporarily, not forever, just for now. You see, I paint a lifestyle and
events within that lifestyle more temporary than life itself. The winners this year are the losers next year. My paintings will have more permanence than most of the subjects."
Opportunities for travel and study in the finest galleries in America and invaluable experience gained by working with renown print masters in New York and Houston have aided Rush in his lifelong dream of developing and maturing into a perfectionist as a
Rick's brother, Don, is exclusive agent for the artist and handles all the affairs of business and negotiations. Their partnership is truly a dream come true. "We prayed about it a long, long time - even years," says Rick. The brothers share a deep bond of Christian
Rush's work has been exhibited in shows across the south including a one-man show in 1977 at The Art Center for Southwest Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana.
Recently, Rick signed a contract with a New York firm that represents some of the top athletes in the country. And, presently, excitement is high over the extraordinary silkscreen print work in
conjunction with Feather Press.
Rick Rush defines his artistic goal in a word: "Perfection." That's all.
"Anything less isn't good enough. I want to do masterful work. My painting style has developed into a style and technique that I've not seen anybody else use past or present. I love my work. I've watched the sun come up many mornings after painting all night.
It's a labor and it's lonely at times like giving birth."
"Sometimes when I start, I can't stop until I'm finished because I can't wait to see if the finished painting is going to meet the standards I have set in my mind's eye. I want to capture that instant we all love, but can't seem to hold."
Such is a standard that is offering widely-spread aesthetic enjoyment to serious art collectors who are taken by the most recognizable of America's ongoing fare of "Sporting Impressionism."