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Meet the Beckendorfs - Ben Beckendorf

Posted by Joe Beckendorf on

What made you all come to Fredericksburg and what were the early days like?

My mom’s mother was ill and she wanted to keep a closer eye on her. We moved to Fredericksburg in 1965 - 14 miles North of town, out in the country and our nearest neighbor was about a mile away, so moving from Houston was quite the culture shock. One of the things that shocked me was that half of the students at school came to school barefoot. At that time, the only reason people came to our town was to experience Enchanted Rock (and it wasn't even a state park then). Our main street and surroundings have changed so much.

How else has the city changed since you all arrived?Ben Beckendorf

There was about 5% of the businesses here that are here now. Our law enforcement has also changed. We used to have a sheriff, a deputy, a night watchman and that was it. It was a bit like the wild west. There were only 2 or 3 restaurants, and 2 small grocery stores too. It just felt like the middle of nowhere. Just a sleepy little town.

Did you all travel around Texas and if so was it for the art?

Once we started the gallery in Fredericksburg in 1971, we got more anchored to the town. It became a destination place because of the gallery. It boosted the popularity of the area. Yes, when my father's art became extremely popular we would travel all over Texas and set up displays of his artwork in Hotel Ballrooms and different organizations.

Did you attempt to draw because of your Fathers talent?
Absolutely. I started drawing and painting because of him - he was always so creative - not only in art, but most everything he did. He was an illustrator when I was young and he worked in the advertising department for Walt Disney and Knotts Berry Farm in California and was always creating amazing things that fascinated me as a boy. He even did a project for Howard Hughes Corporation working on drawings of submarines that were "Top Secret".  

What was Charles’ favorite work?

When he started doing wildlife art, he got a huge response from it. I believe that was his favorite subject to do because he got such a strong response from it and he was so good at depicting wildlife.

Is everyone in the family an artist?

No, just me. My sister Kathy is artistic and very creative but she didn’t pursue it as a career. My brothers Scott and Joe are great photographers.

What was your favorite adventure with your dad?

My father would take me on photography trips and part of the fun was never knowing where we would end up. I didn't just learn photography tips but I learned life lessons, and stories, and jokes, history and heritage all from my father's perspective.

What was the one thing you remember most that your dad taught you?
The best thing he ever told me was to be myself. Let influences influence you, but be your own man.

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