Father and son share passion for art, military

Willie Kendrick Sr. addresses a group of seniors Feb. 6 during the reception marking the debut of Kendrick and his son’s art exhibit, which is part of the Avenue of the Arts Series at the Laurel Beltsville Senior Activities Center. (Photos by Bryan C. Spann)

By Tech Sgt. Patrick Harrower, Defense Media Activity

It is often said that one of the greatest joys a father can have in life is to witness his children following in his footsteps.

For Willie Kendrick Sr., this happened over the years and culminated recently at the Laurel Beltsville Senior Activities Center in Laurel. Kendrick shares an art exhibit with his son Willie Kendrick Jr., a Navy production graphic artist at the Defense Media Activity.

The exhibit, part of the Avenue of the Arts Series, opened Feb. 6 with a reception and will run through March 31.

A portrait of a decorated service member by Willie Kendrick Sr. is among the artwork displayed in the father-son art exhibit that runs through March 31.

“My dad always painted while I was growing up,” Willie Kendrick Jr. said.

“When I was little, I used to sit on his lap and pretend to paint with him.”

The elder Kendrick retired from the Army after a long career as a combat artist and has continued to create and teach art throughout his life.

“When my father was deployed, I would go to libraries to get my hands on whatever art books I could,” Willie Kendrick Jr. said. “My school only taught art once a week and that just wasn’t enough for me.

“I eventually would go to vocational school, community college and a university to work on my skills.”

He didn’t have the same military experience, however, as his dad. Kendrick served in the Marines as a stinger gunner during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. After leaving the Marine Corps, he worked for a few years as a Computer Aided Design operator and graphic artist for varying companies before coming to Defense Media Activity.

“Now that I am at DMA, I can do what my father did in the Army but as a civilian,” Kendrick said. “My dad set a great example to follow. I try to show the same dedication to art and hard work that he does.”

The elder Kendrick, who has been an art instructor at the Laurel Beltsville Senior Activities Center for about four years, said he wants to use the great relationship he shares with his son to help teach.

A painting by Willie Kendrick Jr. is displayed alongside his other pieces of work at the Laurel Beltsville Senior Activities Center.

“I figure we have got to do this before I forget how to do this stuff,” he said. “The most rewarding thing about working here is working with the seniors. They have so many years behind them and things they wanted to do, but sometimes life gets in the way.”

Now that the seniors have time for themselves, they can catch up with their inner artist with the Kendricks guiding them along the way.

Editor’s note: The Laurel Beltsville Senior Activities Center is open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 301-206-3350.

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