Editor’s note:  This is a tribute to Ken “The Dauber” Pridgeon, a War Veteran himself, (serving from the age of 19 to the age of 27), Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Gallery, our Fallen Heroes, all American Veterans, and those who serve today or those who stand ready to go to battle for American Freedom. You must go, if you haven’t already.  Take the kids, the grandkids, grandparents, Veterans in your family; it is a must see!

FIRST:  When I walked into the Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Art Gallery, I thought of the famous “Jaws” movie line “WE’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT!”

BACKGROUND:

kenpridgeonmural4webI met Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon when Old River-Winfree Founders Day was looking for someone to paint a roadside mural for our Founders Day.  Ken is famous for the mural at the Baytown Museum and I thought, that’s our guyI

I remember going to his house in early to mid 2009 and saw the work he does. We did commission Ken to do our Roadside mural.  

Go to this ORW Community News posting to see Ken painting our mural:  https://orwfd.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/commissioning-history/

It was months after that, I felt led to ask Ken to do a portrait of Pfc. Wesley R. Riggs for Founders Day.  Ken says when do you need it…..  Ken tells the story that it was on a Wednesday I asked him to paint the portrait.  He remembers me saying, Saturday, of course!  That was two days away!

20100717_68Ken came to Founders Day that Saturday, sat in Mayor Joe Landry’s chair, and painted away on the portrait.

(This portrait of Pfc. Wesley R. Riggs turned out to be the FIRST portrait in the long line of Portraits of our Fallen Heroes that Ken has done since that day.  It started Ken on a Journey of a lifetime, blessed by God.)   As Ken set there painting, we didn’t know that another soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Jesse W. Ainsworth, was being escorted by the Patriot Guard going north on Hwy 146 taking him back to his final resting place in Dayton, Texas.  Staff Sgt. Ainsworth was the second portrait.  The rest is history.

I see Ken when he comes back to where it all began at Old River-Winfree Founders Day and follow his posts on Facebook,  but, I had never been to the Memorial Gallery.

August 30, 2013

Yesterday, I was dropping off flyers for the ORWFD 5K Run/Walk Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project in Memory of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs and I put the Gallery and Ken on my list of places to stop.

I shot pictures up a storm outside, making sure that all of those who saw this post would feel as it they were with me on this visit.  I was a happy little camper; hot , but happy.

I then opened the door to go into the Gallery.  It was then the 6 senses we are all born with, normally, took over.

First was the gift of sight:  My eyes opened wide at the color they were viewing, brilliant in red, white and blue.  The Red, White, and Blue of our Fallen Heroes.  When my eyes started going from left to right around the Gallery, my thoughts were, “So many portraits”.  Meaning, so many lost lives.  I took in the portraits that go from ceiling to floor and my eyes started misting up and tears flowed gently down my face.

Mind you, I’m not out of the doorway yet.  I’m just standing there taking it all in.  

Then my hearing took over and I could hear music, Patriotic Country Music coming from a radio in the back; and, something else;  a voice, and I realized and recognized Ken singing at the top of his lungs along with the radio.

I could smell the very faint aroma of paint and started taking pictures to make sure you were seeing what I saw.

I worked my way back toward the music and Ken, all along snapping pictures and just looking at the lives affected by our last two wars and beyond.  As I neared Ken, I saw him with his paint brush up, just a painting away on another portrait of a hero, a special kind of hero.

I called to Ken and approached him as he sat and we greeted one another.  I turned around from him, telling Ken how wonderful the Gallery is, and I spotted it.

Right behind where Ken paints is his first Portrait, the portrait of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs son of my friend, Daniel Riggs.   I’m an emotional person, but it seemed like Wes was there cheering Ken on and watching over the work.  Right by Wes was Staff Sgt Ainsworth, Ken’s second portrait.

Ken and I started talking and I continued my way snapping pictures, sharing with Ken, reminiscing, and talking about the upcoming 2013 ORWFD on October 12, 2013.

We talked and I saw soo much more, like the Vietnam jacket pictured in the video below.  SO much more to see.

But, YOU will have to go find out the rest of the story on your on.  Ken is getting older and his health seemed off to me, he seemed tired.  But when he starts talking about his “boys and girls” his face lights up and it’s a beautiful transformation.

Go….. go soon, to see Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon, a Texas Icon!