Born into the ranching heritage of the Southwest, Ken Payne began his artistic career as a painter focusing on the landscapes, cowboys, and native peoples of the Southwest. While always pursuing his passion for art, Ken became an accomplished pilot, flying for the commercial airline that later became Continental Airlines. As a lifelong student of history, Ken spent many hours researching stories about the West. In the late 1970’s he decided to turn his talents toward bronze sculpture and for more than four decades produced close to 150 sculptures depicting the action, danger, and even the humor of many a frontier situation.
Ken was respected in the art world as a talented sculptor, painter, and businessman, establishing bronze casting foundries in Lincoln County, New Mexico, as well as Arizona and Colorado. Ken also was the founder of Mountain Trails Gallery where he established fine art galleries in Santa Fe, NM and Sedona, AZ.
People came from all over the world to hear him tell his stories as he sculpted the history of the disappearing American West. He touched the hearts of many with his spirited tales. He collected an extensive library as he strived to accurately portray the fading ways of the cowboys, mountain men, pioneers, and the Native Americans.
His sculptures have been collected nationally and internationally by both private and corporate collectors. Ken pioneered the idea of sculpting in public and was featured in a nationally-televised program entitled “Sculpting with Ken Payne.” He will be remembered as one of the most influential Western sculptors of the twenty-first century and his legacy will live on through the artistic talents of his son Vic Payne and his grandson Dustin Payne.