Saturday, July 19, 2008

Being dubbed my Dauber name

Last week I told you a little about Ken "the Dauber" Pridgeon and how he exited the Air Force and began painting billboards to make ends meet. This week, I once again sat down with Ken at his studio – KTD Signs on Morrell Street and we dug a little deeper into his passion, which is, of course – painting and painting he does well. He had just put the finishing touches (dauber-style) on his story of struggle and armed conflict, covering the wounding of Sgt. Nick Marshall in the war torn hell of Iraq and we discussed the future of art in Baytown.

This finishes up a two-part story on Ken, but hopefully the best part of his story is yet to be told.

"Many good artists lost their lives on those billboards and this story is just one of many and probably won't help anyone remember the loss. Anyway, I was fortunate to end up with my own sign business and in fact, quite a few businesses altogether. You see I am a good designer, but not a good businessman. (Ken laughs) Somehow I've stayed in business over thirty years, starting with lettering on barges for Hollywood Marine.

Here I was, more artist, than athlete, in another hazardous job! Each day, I would ride a tug out into the Gulf. They would hang me over the side and I would commence to letter those barges, waves lapping up around me. It was good money and I kind of felt like my own boss, but one day I lettered a barge and the thing blew up the next day, letting me know that this was as dangerous as billboard painting. That helped me make up my mind to try something else.

So here I go lettering helicopter pads on offshore oil platforms for my next adventure. The crew loved the fact that I could custom letter logos and all kinds of things. One day I was painting a landing pad with a heavy brush – daubing, as the material was thick and had sand in it to keep the helicopters from sliding off into the Gulf. Mr. Powell of Powell Industries watched me working and asked why I painted like that and I explained the only way to make the paint stick was to daub it on. He laughed and told me from this day forward, he was christening me "Ken the Dauber" and well, the name stuck.

Forty years have passed and I made some good and some bad business decisions, but I've continued to learn and paint and these days I'm solid as steel in my desire to teach budding artists and continue my own education. I just want to be a fine arts painter and have folks stop and stare at my art and the stories each one tells. I am so truly blessed to get up each day and paint. Someone mentioned that I may get rich from my paintings and I just looked them in the eye and said - I already am. Each day I can paint makes my life richer.

Enter the Baytown Art League and Baytown's rich history. City Council has purchased a wonderful building at 110 Texas Avenue for us to have an Art Gallery and School and now it is up to us to justify their faith in us as artists, photographers and anyone who loves art.

I am just a paint dauber, but as I've said, it's my dream to grow into a fine arts painter. One time I heard that there are over a thousand styles of painting and I think I know about 300 of them and I want to learn more. I want to share knowledge and we seasoned artists want to paint our knowledge onto the canvas' of young artists minds. That is what the Art League is all about – sharing. Artists, painters and photographers sharing technique, ideas, experience and the simply joy of our individual artistic endeavors.

With our new building at 110 Texas Avenue we have room to grow. All we need are budding artists. Membership is very reasonably priced and yes, we will gladly accept any and all help we can get to make our new building represent the future generations of artists. We need folks to join and we need a little help from those who are supportive. In fact, a membership would make a wonderful gift for someone you love.

I'm just a dauber, but I want to thank our city council for making this dream come true. I was at one of the town meetings and I'm sure it wasn't easy bringing everyone into agreement on this project, but I know why they did it – to preserve our history through developing the artistic abilities of our budding artists, young and old(er). Our developing artists will record tomorrow's memories, but first we must make a platform for them to grow.

It's my personal dream to paint a large multi-pane mural of the history of Baytown and I am asking to copy any and all old photos that showed the Tri-City area of Pelly, Goose Creek, New Town, Wooster, Baytown and Cedar Bayou, to name a few. I can be reached by phone at 832-514-1452. Come on by for a visit".

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