'Charles Beckendorf Day' proclaimed by city, state

Pictured at a Saturday reception were family members of the late Fredericksburg artist Charles Beckendorf, including sons, Joe Beckendorf, left, and Scott Beckendorf, right, and widow Dawn Beckendorf. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

Tuesday was “Charles Beckendorf Day” in Fredericksburg, and fans, friends and representatives from local government celebrated the late artist for his iconic Texas art over the past five decades.

“He loved doing his art,” said son Scott Beckendorf at a reception held Saturday ahead of the proclamation day. “When he started doing prints, not that many artists were doing it at the time.”

To see Fredericksburg’s vibrant art scene with more than a dozen local galleries, it is hard to imagine that Beckendorf took a chance to sell his art.

Beckendorf grew up in Mathis, Texas, where he had permission to wander freely on large ranches, observing wildlife, becoming caught up in the flora and fauna of the Lone Star State.

While he was rarely without a sketchbook, one of his art teachers admonished that “he would never amount to anything” if he just sat around drawing. But after high school, he studied his craft at the University of Corpus Christi, Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State) and, later, the University of Texas in Austin. He paused for a stint in the Air Force.

Beckendorf developed his craft early and worked as a technical illustrator and advertising artist for companies, including Lone Star Beer and Texas Game and Fish Magazine.

The young couple began selling black and white prints. His art proved successful when he and wife Dawn lived in Houston in the early 1960s. A series of pen and ink prints sold well in Houston, so he began to think of expanding.
They moved to Fredericksburg in 1965, and Beckendorf was confident he could sell his wildlife drawings, water colors and oil paintings to a large audience.

Beckendorf opened his original gallery where the Hampton Inn is now located on East Main, on April 1, 1971.

“Dad said, ‘Any fool artist that opens an art gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas, should open on April Fool’s Day,’” Scott Beckendorf said.

The Beckendorfs changed gallery locations several times, hanging their shingle at 519 East Main, to 1600 E. Main (site of the Gillespie County Law Enforcement Center), back to 519 E. Main, then taking up residence at 105 N. Adams in 2003, where it remains today.

Throughout his life, Beckendorf painted thousands of originals in all mediums, produced over 1,500 different prints, sculpted several bronze statues and created six books.

Mrs. Beckendorf operated the gallery for more than four decades and is still involved.

The Beckendorfs had five children: Kathy Sinks, of Dallas; Linda Beckendorf Burdett, local store manager; Ben Beckendorf, local musician and artist; Scott Beckendorf, of San Antonio, president and CEO of Beckendorf Liquors; and Joe Beckendorf, of Fredericksburg, who works at the gallery.

See the Beckendorf Gallery website at http://www.beckendorf.com.

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