Join the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in our centennial celebration! The Buffalo Bill Memorial Association (the founding body of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West) was formed in 1917 to pay tribute to William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Ten years later, in 1927, the original Buffalo Bill Museum opened its doors.
Throughout 2017, the Center of the West will host special events and highlight our collections to commemorate our centennial; honor our namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody; and celebrate local history.
The Whitney Western Art Museum will post blogs every month focused on local artists of the past and present. January’s blog posts will feature Olive Fell and Jeff Rudolph.
Olive Florence Fell was born June 1, 1896 near Big Timber, Montana. At a young age her family moved to Cody, Wyoming. Growing up among the western wildlife and scenic beauty of the Rocky Mountains greatly affected Fell’s life and career. She attended the University of Wyoming before studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Arts Students League in New York City. Upon finishing school, she returned to northwest Wyoming, where she lived and worked at her home and studio overlooking Shoshone Lake, west of Cody.
Fell worked in multiple media, including acrylic and oil paints, charcoal, and wood, bronze, and stone. Her style can be considered representational, but she sometimes incorporated an air of whimsy in her depictions of wildlife, western landscapes, and Euro-American and American Indian peoples who call this region home.
During the 1930s, Fell’s career blossomed and she began loaning etchings to the Buffalo Bill Museum for seasonal exhibitions. She also created novelties and cards for retail. Some of her commercial work featured her famous “Little Cub Bear,” a bright-eyed and often mischievous cub whose antics appealed to locals and tourists alike. In the 1940s and 1950s, Fell created postcards and posters for Yellowstone National Park.
Despite working from a relatively remote location, Olive Fell gained widespread acclaim early in her career. In 1934, the Society of American Etchers selected one of her works as one of the one hundred best prints of the year. In 1936, her work hung at the International Etchers show in Los Angeles and the Northwest Printmakers show in Seattle.
The Whitney Western Art Museum owns more than twenty-five of Fell’s works. To explore these works by Olive Fell and others, please visit our online collection. Beyond the Center, Olive Fell’s prints and paintings can be found in local museums, historical societies, and private collections.
Stay tuned for more centennial blogs and enjoy the festivities throughout the year!