The idea for Paul Sawyier Galleries, Inc. was the result of the Frankfort Jaycees’ annual Capital Art Show in the 1960’s. John Clayton, a Franklin County teacher and artist, and L. Coleman Coffey, a Frankfort CPA, worked with Joseph Discher, J. J. King’s nephew, to display part of the “King” collection of over sixty original Sawyier paintings at the art show. Coffey and Discher, along with John Clayton, a partner for a brief time, formed Paul Sawyier Galleries, Inc. in 1968. Their hope was that the public would have the same positive reaction to Sawyier limited edition art prints that had been given to his original works of art.
The first art print release was “A Rainy Day In Frankfort”. After about five years of operation, and thirty print releases, response to the art prints grew dramatically. A permanent home for Paul Sawyier Galleries was established with the opening of Paul Sawyier Park on Versailles Road. Staff of the combination retail art gallery and publishing operation included Joseph Discher, Anita Discher, and Betsy Coffey.
In 1975-76, the business required such a time commitment that Coleman Coffey’s brothers, William and Robert, took over the operation full time. The retail gallery was sold to Elizabeth and Don Johnson, and renamed Paul Sawyier Art Gallery. The publishing business continued as Paul Sawyier Galleries and expanded by also publishing other artists in addition to Sawyier, and print distribution spread throughout the Midwest.
In 1981, William Coffey became the sole owner and president of Paul Sawyier Galleries Publishers. Robert Coffey, who had a preference for retail sales, opened Paul Sawyier Gallery in Ashland, Kentucky. The first Sawyier release in 1968 was “A Rainy Day in Frankfort”, which is sold out and has a secondary market price of over $2,000.00 In over 35 years of operation, over 400,000 prints have been sold. Paul Sawyier Galleries published its 200th release in the fall of 2006.
Due to the popularity of Sawyier’s artistic style, both in watercolors and oils, his original paintings range from $1,500 to $100,000 in price. His downtown scenes and paintings that include adults or children are greatly in demand, but are seldom available. While Sawyier’s paintings are auctioned primarily in Kentucky, they are sold to individuals and museums nationally. Paul Sawyier Galleries has sold over $500,000 worth of originals.
William Coffey’s personal interest in Paul Sawyier and his artwork has led Coffey to locate several persons who actually knew Sawyier, and three who were distantly related. Even though Sawyier had three sisters and a brother, it has been difficult to establish any direct family descendants.
Coffey continues to seek “lost” Sawyier originals for possible reproduction, and to ensure the paintings are preserved. He also appraises originals free of charge. Coffey has catalogued over 1,500 Sawyier originals, almost all watercolor landscapes and waterscapes. Up to ten “lost” originals are usually discovered each year. Thank you for visiting our site and I hope you enjoy.