“Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon showing Sgt. Nick Marshalls story. Every person he paints who died because of this war has their own bio and painting with Ken Pridgeon at Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Art Gallery.” ~ from Ken’s facebook
|A GOOD DAY IN THE LIFE OF KEN ‘THE DAUBER’|
|“I often run across angels and heroes in unexpected places. A few weeks ago was one of those occasions.
When I arrived at my weekly breakfast club meeting, I saw a large man with a grey goatee standing in the front of the room. His name was Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon and he was our guest speaker for the morning.
I was immediately attracted to this man in the red beret and the six portraits he’d put on display. He had a kind face but one that has seen a lot of life. The furrows ran deep and his hands were those of a working man. I introduced myself and then moved on to study the portraits.
The size of the canvases was substantial, four feet high by three feet wide and bore illustrations of military personnel. In the background of each painting flew an American flag and a bald eagle, and I also spotted scenes of the men engaged in various activities like fishing, white water rafting, and other outdoor pursuits.
Ken was soon introduced. He was relaxed with a humility and manner that was charming. I liked him from the first sentence. He was seventy-nine years old and had been painting portraits of soldiers who died in the service of our country since he was seventy five.
Although he had limited education and had taken few art lessons, he had always wanted to be a painter. His early years were spent in the Air Force as an electronics technician. He would make Sepia toned wedding pictures into color for the “boys.” After ten years, Ken left the service and took up billboard painting to scratch his itch to be an artist. In those days, he was hoisted up on a ball suspended by a crane, usually seventy-five feet off the ground. It was dangerous work. Ken said about three painters were lost each year from falls.
After he left the billboard business, he founded his own company, Mad Dog Signs, and started lettering the sides of barges for Hollywood Marine. He would travel out in the Gulf, hang over the side of the barge, and do his lettering. After one barge job he found out that the barge had exploded the next day—another dangerous job that he decided to quit.
For his next career turn, he began to paint helicopter landing pads for offshore drilling rigs. He could adorn the pads with logos and other interesting designs. Ken recalled that the pads were covered with a thick rough material. He said, “If you painted with a stroking motion, the brush would be torn up in a few minutes, so I daubed it on. That’s how I got the nickname the ‘Dauber.’”
Then in 2010, Ken, who had retired, was approached by the family of Army Private First Class Wesley Riggs and asked to paint a portrait of the son who was killed in Iraq in 2005. Ken accepted, but as with all his subsequent portraits, he wanted to know everything he could about Wesley: his interests, hobbies, passions, and personality. The family was extremely pleased. He had captured the essence of their son.
The word spread and Ken began to receive requests from many Texas families who had lost a loved one in the service. After his second portrait of Army Staff Sergeant Jessie Ainsworth, Ken said, “I found a deep calling and inspiration to continue and honor all the Texas heroes who had sacrificed their lives. I had a vision for a memorial art museum.”
Ken does not charge for his portraits. The large canvases are for the museum and a print is given to the families. He has completed over one hundred and fifty paintings and has about five hundred to go. Ken survives on Social Security checks, donations, and the three free meals a day donated by the Golden Corral restaurant in Baytown. Supporters have established the Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Foundation to raise money to build a larger exhibit facility.
Ken knows that this is his final mission in life and one he will not fully complete. He paints ten hours a day six days a week and loves it every moment. He hopes someone will pick up the work when he’s gone.
I’m nearing age seventy five and hope to still have the passion to take up work that will make a difference. Ken is a great role model and I thank him for speaking to my heart at just an ordinary breakfast meeting.
They say, “All’s well that ends well.” Ken is concluding his life well, which is a wonderful ending. I hope to end well too.”
Ken “The Dauber” Pridgeon is famous for his daily sacrifice in the form of paying commemorative recognition – to our boys and girls – through his paintings.The dream grew with the cause that the fallen must never be forgotten, as we can see them for MORE than just a name, number or dog tag. With each portrait we see the memories of their lives captured in time.
As Ken is committed to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in making these memorial portraits, we are committed to help him raise 30 million dollars to build a landmark place where these heroes will be shared with all of America and the world…
Support Ken’s memorial art gallery mission and help families heal.
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Leave a positive legacy for generations to come.
~ Ken’s Committee