Summer 2022|volume 15|Issue 4

    The Artist Denny Karchner

    Owner/operator of Buffalo Graphics, accomplished illustrator, computer graphic artist, and fine artist (karchnerwesternart.com).
    Denny Karchner

    Denny Karchner

    Denny Karchner graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1972. Soon afterward he was employed by Kurtz Brothers, one of the largest offset printers on the East Coast, working in their art department for over eight years. Denny owned and operated an ad agency, Karchner Advertising, and a commercial screen-printing business, Design-To-Print, in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, from 1975 to 1996, when Denny relocated to North Carolina.

    For the last 45 years, most of Denny’s artwork has been directed towards the screen printing and imprinted sportswear business. Denny’s Design-To-Print catered to vendors in New York City, who sold to many major clothing retailers such as Sears, J C Penney, K-Mart, Victoria’s Secret, and Lane Bryant.

    From 1996, Denny ran the art department for another screen-printing business, Seaside Designs/Image Products, in the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. In 2001 Denny relocated to Tampa, Florida, and spent five years as a senior graphic artist/illustrator in the Harley-Davidson Division at VF Imagewear, whose client list included the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, NASCAR, and Sports Illustrated.

    Illustration of Brett Keisel for  Backwoodsman magazine.

    Illustration of Brett Keisel for Backwoodsman magazine.

    Denny spent several years illustrating and writing for The Pennsylvania Game News, while also producing Western art in his spare time. In 2005, he developed a website dedicated solely to his Western art, graphites, and paintings—karchnerwesternart.com. In October 2005, three of Denny’s works were accepted for permanent display at the famous Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

    Denny’s first two completed paintings, Alan Baker as Cody and No Time For Flowers, were both acrylics, but he moved to traditional oils for his portraits of Native Americans, mountain men, marksmen, and gunslingers. Denny worked closely with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and his Curt Gowdy commission caught the attention of Art Rooney, Jr., owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who mentioned that he was looking for a new artist to complete his collection of paintings of “his warriors”—and soon hired Denny. Denny has painted several Steelers players for Mr. Rooney from the 1950s through 1970s as well as recent Steelers such as Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger. Many of Denny’s Steelers portraits are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and hang in the Heinz Sports History Museum in Pittsburgh.

    Denny Karchner’s illustration “Hell Bent for Leather 1928” depicts movie cowboy Tom Mix.

    Denny Karchner’s illustration “Hell Bent for Leather 1928” depicts movie cowboy Tom Mix.

    Denny’s parents, siblings, and children have always been a major influence in his creativity. Denny is 64 years old now and resides with his wife of 19 years, Leigh, in New Port Richey, Florida, and spends the summer months in the beautiful city of Cody, Wyoming. Today Denny concentrates heavily on his fine-art career as well as working as a freelance artist for Harley-Davidson, creating high-end t-shirt artwork.

    Father Silas “Dan” Rooney

    father-silas
    Silas and Denny Karchner
    Father Silas “Dan” Rooney was the brother of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, Sr. He was an outstanding athlete, a catcher, and his brother Art was the manager of West Virginia’s Wheeling Stogies, a team in the old Middle Atlantic Baseball League. In 1921, Father Silas was offered a contract with the New York Yankees for $5,000; he turned it down to enter the priesthood. A member of the Franciscan order, he was ordained at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York, where he served as athletic director. He spent seven years as a missionary in China until the Communist takeover. He also served as a chaplain in the European theater during World War II. He died January 9, 1981.

    Commission details, by Denny Karchner. In 2011 Art Rooney, Jr., contacted me about a commission piece for a retirement gift. The commission was to paint his uncle Father “Dan” Rooney for St. Bonaventure’s John R. “Jack” McGinley, who served on the Board of Trustees for ten years in the 1990s, ultimately serving as chair of the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2012. When Art Rooney, Jr., saw the portrait, he also wanted a portrait of Father Silas as well, but with a few changes. This is the painting I did for ARJ. It has a signed “Duke” football by Father Silas’s brother, Art Sr. laying on the desk, unlike the McGinley portrait. It was presented to Jack in 2012.