Olive Fell1896 - 1980
Printmaker, Painter, Sculptor
Born: June 1, 1896, Big Timber Creek, Montana
Died: February 3, 1980, Cody, Wyoming
Olive Fell grew up in Wyoming, and after studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York, she returned to her home state. She settled on the Four Bear Ranch near Cody and lived there for the rest of her life. In the 1930s, Fell developed her popular "Little Bear Cubs" design on cards and novelties, which sold to tourists in the national parks and resorts. During the 1940s and 50s, she continued to create postcards and posters for Yellowstone National Park. In 1935, the artist began painting Native American children with oils and later acrylics. She also sculpted wildlife in wood, rock, and stone.
Despite her isolation from the artistic community, Fell became known especially for her etchings. For Minds to Know was chosen as one of the one hundred best prints of the year by the Society of American Etchers in 1934. During the 1930s, several of her prints were featured in exhibitions sponsored by organizations such as the International Etchers, the Northwest Printmakers, and the Society of American Etchers. She also showed at the National Art Exhibition in Chicago in 1936 and the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939.
As early as the 1930s, the Buffalo Bill Museum (now the Buffalo Bill Historical Center) began showing Fell's prints as she regularly loaned them her work. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center as well as the Montana Historical Society in Helena continue to collect her work.
"The inspiration for most of Fell's work came from within the boundaries of her 1,800-acre ranch, a protected game refuge in the Absaroka Range of the Wyoming Rockies. Regularly she tracked animals on horseback or on skis, then sat for hours, often using precarious vantage points to observe and sketch for future reference."
(Source: Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.)