Valuable painting hides in plain sight at Green Valley library

2013-07-22T00:00:00Z 2013-07-22T10:40:02Z Valuable painting hides in plain sight at Green Valley libraryJoe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For years, a painting worth several thousand dollars has hung on a wall in the Joyner-Green Valley Branch Library in relative obscurity.

The 6-by-8-foot oil painting was hard to miss in the small meeting room - a portrait of a table with a bright blue tablecloth surrounded by various flowers in a garden.

But few truly knew the colorful history of the painting.

Donie Gignac, the branch manager of the Joyner-Green Valley Library, said the painting is being seen in a new light after a local artist told her staff that the painting was an original painted by Ohio artist Joseph O'Sickey.

The painting, "Garden Table with Blue Cloth Blue Chair," hangs inside the Katherine Sawyer meeting room.

Sawyer donated money directly to the library to build the room, and she indirectly donated the painting as well, explains Gignac.

After Sawyer died in the early '90s, she left the painting to her assistant, said Gignac. But with no room for the large painting, the assistant conferred with Sawyer's heirs, eventually deciding on donating it to the library.

Despite talking with close friends and family members, no one is sure how long Sawyer had the painting.

"We don't know where she got it," she said.

Gignac said her predecessors decided to hang it in the meeting room.

"It was a good place to put it. It was one of the few walls we have that is big enough to hang it," she said.

Identified by O'Sickey's unique style and his signature on the back, a few locals have dropped by the library to see the painting for themselves .

Access is limited, as library staffers only show it to individuals when the small meeting room it hangs in is not in use, Gignac said.

The library is considering moving the painting to another location so more people can enjoy it, but the sheer size of the artwork leaves staffers with only a handful of options on where to hang it.

Wayne Kielsmeier, an art appraiser with Covington Fine Arts Gallery, noted several portraits by O'Sickey have recently sold for as much as $7,400.

He said the size of the painting could be a problem for some buyers.

"Pieces you can stick under your arm are more attractive," he said.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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