Arts & Culture

UK Art Museum Exhibits Work by Celebrated Kentucky Impressionist

photo of Paul Sawyier's "Beyond the Hill"
Photo of Paul Sawyier painting with snowy landscape

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 12, 2021) Although he was born across the Ohio River, it was the Commonwealth’s beautiful landscape that became the beloved subject of impressionist Paul Sawyier’s career. A free public exhibition of Sawyier's watercolors drawn from the museum’s collection at University of Kentucky Art Museum is now on display.  

"Paul Sawyier is always one of Kentucky's favorite artists, but in the midst of bleak winter days, it's even more rewarding to come in and see his scenes of lazy summer afternoons along the Elkhorn Creek or Kentucky River. It gives us all something to look forward to," said Janie Welker, UK Art Museum curator.

Deep roots in Kentucky have made Sawyier one of the state’s favorite artists. This exhibition features the atmospheric watercolors he made in and around his Frankfort home, as well as other well-known locales in the region. Many will be familiar to viewers today. 

Sawyier often revisited his favorite Frankfort subjects: the dappled shade of Louisville Hill in summer; the “singing bridge,” steeples of the county and federal courthouses, and Good Shepherd Church, viewed from the vantage point of the Frankfort City Cemetery; and the graceful architecture of the Old Capitol building. 

Sawyier was raised in the state’s capital from 5 years old and began his career as an artist in his beloved hometown. He often lived and worked on a houseboat on the Kentucky River between 1908 and 1913, frequently mooring at Shakertown or Camp Nelson, although he navigated the river to many sites. Sawyier and his love, Mayme Bull, often went canoeing on the river or the Elkhorn Creek east of Frankfort.  

Even after Sawyier moved to Brooklyn in 1913 to try to sell more work, he painted well-loved Kentucky scenes based on sketches he brought with him.

This exhibition will be on display through March 20, 2021.


To keep patrons and staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, UK Art Museum has several protocols in place. All visitors must pre-register for a timed appointment to view exhibitions. Reservations can be made here

In addition, all visitors must abide by the following guidelines when visiting any exhibitions or activities at UK Art Museum:

  • Face masks must be worn by all visitors older than 2 years of age.
  • Capacity will be reduced and controlled to 20 visitors at any time.
  • Temperature checks will be required for visitors and staff prior to entry.
  • Visitors showing signs of illness at any time will be asked to return when they are healthy.
  • Visitors must use provided hand sanitizer upon entry.
  • Social distancing is required and will be enforced.
  • Follow signs noting the direction of traffic in the galleries.
  • Credit or debit cards only; no cash permitted for any purchases. 

UK Art Museum staff will also wear masks, undergo temperature checks prior to entry, use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. Please check the UK Art Museum website before you visit for the most up-to-date information.

The UK Art Museum’s current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The museum will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

The mission of the UK Art Museum, part of the UK College of Fine Arts, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of art to enhance the quality of life for people of Kentucky through collecting, exhibiting, preserving and interpreting outstanding works of visual art from all cultures. Home to a collection of more than 4,800 objects including American and European paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture, the Art Museum presents both special exhibitions and shows of work from its permanent collection. 

The UK Art Museum is located in the Singletary Center for the Arts at Rose Street and Euclid Avenue. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.