“Don can draw and sketch as well,
In art we think he will excel.”
Featured under Ol’ Don’s picture in his class of 1954 yearbook, that verse stood the test of time.
Originally from New York state, Don Burgdorf was first exposed to the West on television. “For a Rochester boy growing up in the 1940s, the West consisted of a Saturday matinee with Gene or Roy galloping across the silver screen on their trusty steeds,” his biography reads. He found early artistic influence in Charles M. Russell, a cowboy-artist from Montana, as well as Frederic Remington, a New York artist and historian.
Burgdorf received numerous awards and scholarships for his drawings and paintings based on the movie Shane, so he continued his art at the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. “The 1950s collegiate level for the field of art was intent on teaching the various schools of the abstract movement,” he remarked. For this reason, Burgdorf painted infrequently for the next 35 years.
But he couldn’t stay away. In the 1980s, Burgdorf got back to it. After moving to Nashville in 1971 and taking several vacations to the western U.S., Burgdorf sat back down at the easel.
Wood carvings eventually became his main venture, and he and his wife, Sandie, toured during the summer teaching carving classes in their motor home starting in 2003. “Traveling kept me away from my easel, but to continue with my drawing interests during this time, I created carving patterns for three carving publications and T-shirt designs for woodcarvers,” he commented. The Burgdorfs moved to Hohenwald in 2007.
“My faith was put to the test,” Burgdorf remarked, “while experiencing two primary cancers, pneumonia, back surgery, shingles and a few other maladies within a four-year period.” Burgdorf would direct readers to Psalm 34:19, which says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
“At 79, I’ve now decided it is time to slow down some, and my interest has returned to my easel,” Burgdorf said. “I have several paintings in mind that I said someday I want to paint… as long as my somedays don’t run out.” As for him returning once again to the easel, the world is better for it.
The multitalented Don Burgdorf is a pivotal part of Validity. In addition to being a cartoonist for the Lookin’ Back feature in every month’s issue, Ol’ Don has been featured in the magazine twice, once for his carvings in March 2012 and in this issue for his paintings. His carvings can be viewed online at www.picturetrail.com/carveroldon.