Born in Denver, Colorado on October 1, 1929, with a heritage of western history (his grandparents were pioneer ranchers near Leadville), Rossi is considered a foremost authority on western art and history as well as a superb artist himself. He is a social historian, specializing in frontier military history, the cattle industry, fur trade era, Plains Indians and natural history of the west. While Director of the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he co-authored the book, THE ART OF THE OLD WEST (Knopf) based on the tremendous collection there. Rossi personally works in all media doing sculpture, painting, dioramas: bronzes through the lost wax method, oil (using the Renaissance glazing technique), watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, pencil, conte crayon, mixed media, charcoal, etc. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, circulated by the Smithsonian, seen on national TV. Additionally he has illustrated many books and articles, and is in numerous private and corporate collections and museums. For eight years a set of his twelve miniature bronzes, "The Great Saddles of the West", were in the Oval Office of the White House on personal loan from Walter Annenberg to President Reagan, who had admired them. Now they are on permanent loan to (and on permanent exhibit in) the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Paul Rossi attended Denver University, studying anthropology as well as art. One of his professors had his PhD in the Renaissance techniques from Yale, and Rossi prefers those styles today. During the summers of 1946 to 1950 he worked on Colorado and western Nebraska cattle ranches, and for two summers he followed the wheat harvest from Texas to Canada. He served the Colorado Historical Society, Museum Division, as Exhibits Preparator, 1952-1954, as Deputy Curator of Museums and as Acting Curator in 1956 when he resigned to open his own commercial art studio and museum service. The Colorado Heritage Center honored him with an invitational one-man exhibit in Denver of his work in 1979. His interest in aeronautical and space subjects stems from his service in the U.S. Air Force and work with Martin Aircraft Co., 1959-61, where he did advanced space design for proposed space exploratory vehicles and systems. He became Assistant Director of the Gilcrease in 1961, Director in 1964 and resigned in 1972 to devote full time to his own art, lecturing and writing.