Miss Olivia Bendelari

Jopliners are no doubt familiar with the Olivia Apartments, which were built in 1906 by A.E. Bendelari. Bendelari named the apartments for his mother, Olivia. Pictured below, however, is not his mother, but his niece. Not only does Olivia-the-niece, like the apartments, share the matron of the family’s name, but she made quite a name for herself as a muralist.

Olivia Bendelari

Olivia Bendelari at the Smithsonian, 1939. (Courtesy of the Post Library.)

According to an article in the 1939 edition of The Joplin Globe, Miss Bendelari’s parents moved the family to Joplin when she was a small child. After attending Joplin’s schools, she moved to Europe, where she studied in Paris, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Upon completing her studies, Olivia returned to Joplin, where she kept a studio in the Cunningham Building.

But in Joplin she did not stay. Lured east, Olivia took a studio in NYC’s Greenwich Village. She earned recognition by specializing in murals featuring aviation. (Note: she was a student pilot!) Olivia was believed to be the only woman artist specializing in aviation at the time. She was commissioned to paint “Civil Aviation” for the Museum of Science in Radio City, NY, and her work has also been displayed at the Smithsonian.




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