Rex Monroe Denton Jr. was born in Robard, Kentucky (Henderson County) on January 8, 1919 to Dr. Rex M. Denton Sr. and Nellye (Handey) Denton. Rex was one of five children, his mother Nellye, a poet and writer, was the first to encourage Rex’s creativity. When young Rex was searching for childhood activities she would hand him a pencil and paper and encourage him to sketch the barns, an old gate, various animals and landscapes.
Rex was in the second grade when his mother signed him up for two after school drawing lessons. His first lesson focused on pencil drawing and the second was ink. After the pencil lesson, Rex presented his mother with a picture of a rabbit that she cherished for many years. Though young Rex only received two lessons he proved to be a very worthy pupil as his pencil lessons gave him his favorite medium through which he has generated hundreds of drawings over his 95 years.
Rex Jr. and his family relocated to Fordsville, Kentucky in 1930. Many of Rex’s portraits document early Fordsville citizens that played a roll in his youth.
On October 4, 1940 – Rex married Enize A. Veteto Emory. They had two sons; Donald R. Denton and James M. Denton.
A stent in the service during World War II triggered a renewed interest in drawing, specifically in portraiture. Inspired by Artist/Illustrator Norman Rockwell, artist Denton also possesses a strong sense of country and community.
Rex always understood the importance of memorializing the people and faces that kept Fordsville strong during the great depression. A face was more than just a face to the late Mr. Denton. He once said “The eyes, expression lines and shadows speak to a lifetime of experience both good and bad.” Rex’s portrait of his Father, Dr. Rex M. Denton was the artist’s favorite drawing as well as a beautiful example of his talent.
Denton credited much of his technique as a portrait artist to the fifty years he spent as a school photographer. He photographed thousands of children over the years and learned special skills touching up and tinting Senior High School pictures. Each year he purchased hundreds of combs for the students making sure good hair and smiles were achieved.
Besides his numerous portraits, Rex Denton’s contributions to the Fordsville Community included the Fordsville L & N Depot Museum logo and painting, the cover illustration for Mrs. Edith Freer’s book The History of Fordsville, Ohio County, Kentucky and all of the illustrations for John Blackburn’s book A Hundred Miles a Hundred Heartbreaks.