On June 17, Fredericksburg Mayor Linda Langerhans proclaimed an annual “Charles Beckendorf Day” in honor of the renowned wildlife artist who helped put that Hill Country town on the map.
The reception, organized by marketing consultants Sales by 5 for Beckendorf”s gallery, was well attended by friends and family, but was only a shadow of of past public-relations glory. Guests recalled annual citywide cookouts behind Beckendorf’s 16,000 square foot gallery (a former purse factory) on highway 290 where the artist and his wife served steaks and potato salad to 3000 townspeople. One eulogist (Beckendorf died in 1996) claimed it was “the largest one-artist gallery in the world.” In 1979, Beckendorf published his book Images of Texas in Fredericksburg, having pre-sold 10,000 signed an numbered copies.
Beckendorf grew up in Mathis, Texas, attended the University of Corpus Christi and Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos (now Texas State University) before finally getting a degree in Fine Arts from UT Austin. He worked as an illustrator in Houston in the early 60’s. Beckendorf brought his family to Fredericksburg in 1965, and opened his first gallery on April 1, 1971, saying, “Any fool artist who opens a gallery in Fredericksburg, TX, should open on April fool’s day.”