Rodolfo Escalera was the only son of a family of five, born in
Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico in 1929. His love for drawing was noticeable from a very young age; a talent that was “inherited” from his father and grandfather whom both were talented artists in their own right.
His father tried to discourage his artistic pursuits, telling him that artists in Mexico were “under every stone you turn” and actually forbid him from pursuing art as a career. Consequently Escalera decided to pursue architecture in order to appease his father while simultaneously somewhat satisfying his creative craving. Unbeknownst to his father he secretly continued to develop his technique. As fate would have it Escalera’s father was paralyzed by a stroke during a time that he had been contracted by a commercial school to create the graduating class’ diplomas’. Escalera, wanting to help the family in any way possible, offered to take on the project. Upon presenting a sample to the school director his work was approved and he was able to complete the project on behalf of his father.
Two years later his father died of a heart attack and in 1948 the family decided to relocate to California. Escalera attended a semester of school to help him learn to speak English but then was compelled to throw himself in to the work force to help support his mother and two sisters. Eventually he landed a job in an architectural firm while all along continuing to develop his painting technique after hours and on weekends.
By 1950 he was working at an advertising firm that held a contract with Azteca Films, a company that distributed movies in the United States that were produced in Mexico. Of all of his employment’s this was by far his most satisfying as he was given the Azteca account as his to manage as well as a degree of creative license. With all going well and beginning to feel financially secure he returned to Mexico and married his childhood sweetheart Susana. By 1961 the Escalera’s had grown to a family of six and Escalera had by then opened his own advertising agency. This, for him, was the absolute perfect scenario as he could make a living doing what he loved as well as set his own hours that enabled him to devote time to the creation of five incredible masterpieces that took 20 years to complete!
In 1980 he was persuaded to enter into the plate collector business. This endeavor proved to be successful for him as he was very sought after by those who collected plates as well as those who simply appreciated the caliber of his work. This medium led to his applying for the licensing rights as an official licensee for the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles California. He was awarded the opportunity to create nine paintings, depicting many of the various sporting events, that were in turn converted into the highest quality collectible porcelain plates and sold, in limited edition quantities, to the general public. These plates were also used by the Olympic committee as the “official gift” being presented to all of the visiting dignitaries from throughout the world. With several successes within the plate industry Escalera was once again approached to create a painting for the 1986 World Cup Soccer championship that was held in Mexico City. This painting too was re-created in the form of a porcelain plate and was sold as the official gift of the championship throughout the world.
With his family all grown-up and with families of their own Escalera and his wife Susana decided to move back to an area near his hometown in Lerdo, Durango, the year was 1988.
Upon returning, a neighboring city, Torreon, Coahuila awarded Escalera with an official plaque from the city recognizing him as “Valor Lagunero”, something the city offers to citizens who have had significant accomplishments throughout their lifetimes. Lerdo, Durango, awarded him the designation of “ Ciudadano Distinguido” or “very distinguished citizen”. Another city, Gomez Palacio, Durango (his hometown) named the largest showroom at “La Casa De La Cultura” (The House of Culture) after him at a dedication promoting art in all of its varying formats.
The remaining years of Escalera’s life were spent pursuing his lifelong passion, painting. He created piece after piece, even after being diagnosed with cancer in 1994. His intent was to leave as many pieces as he could for posterity as well to be remembered as a part of Mexico, the country that held his heart. He called each and every one of his canvases “a labor of love” and left a portion of himself in every piece. Those who knew him will attest to the amazing God given gift that was his.
Escalera lost his battle with cancer on January 25, 2000.
· 1949 - Worked as a stencil cutter at Galindo and Burroughs, Los Angeles Calif.
· 1950 - Worked as an artist for Hollywood Production Art.
· 1962 - Opened Escalera Production Art Inc., his own agency.
Created movie posters for Azteca Films Inc., Entertainment Ventures Inc., as well as advertising for many corporations.
· 1981 - Was introduced to the porcelain collectible plate industry. Contracted with Hackett American Plates and went on to become a best selling artist traveling throughout the country giving exhibitions of his work. ( NewYork, San Francisco, San Diego and Beverly Hills California, Southbend Indiana, Scottsdale Arizona, Orlando Florida as well as others.)
· 1983 - Was awarded the official license by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to design and create nine paintings (that would become limited edition commemorative collectible plates) depicting many of the different sporting events. The plates were then awarded the designation of “The Official Gift of the 1984 Olympics” and presented to a “whose who” of visiting dignitaries throughout the world. The list included the following:
· 1985 - Was contracted to design and create a painting that would be converted into a limited edition commemorative collectible plate for the 1985 World Cup Soccer Championship held in Mexico City, Mexico. The plate enjoyed world wide sales and distribution.
· 1986-2000 - Retired and moved back to Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico. Built his dream hacienda in Lerdo, Durango Mexico and spent the rest of his days pursuing his passion, oil painting.
Art Exhibits from 1986 to 2000
Museo De Arte Moderno en la Casa De La Cultura, Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico
Casa De La Cultura, Matamoros, Coahuilla Mexico
Teatro Alvarado, Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico
Casa Del Cerro, Torreon, Coahuilla Mexico
Technologico De Monterrey, Torreon, Coahuilla Mexico
Presidencia Municipal, Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico
Presidencia Municipal, Lerdo, Durango Mexico
Teatro Isauro Martinez, Torreon, Coahuilla Mexico
Open house at Hacienda Escalera, Lerdo, Durango Mexico
100 Years of Tijuana, Tijuana Mexico
· Was named “Valor Lagunero” by the City of Torreon, Coahuilla Mexico
· Was named “Ciudadano Distinguido” by the City of Lerdo Durango, Mexico
· La Casa De La Cultura in Gomez Palacio, Durango Mexico named its largest exhibit room after him, calling it: “Sala de Exhibiciones de Maestro Rodolfo EscaleraVizcaino”
· Was on the cover of Plate Collector Magizine. February 1984 edition.· Was awarded the privilege as the only Olympic Licensee in 1984 for the creation of limited edition collectible plates (series of 9). The set of plates eventually went on to become the “official gift” of the 1984 games.
· Was the creator of the official licensed commemorative collectors plate of the 1986 Soccer World Cup Championship.
· Donated original Olympic plate sketches to the “Special Olympic” organization.
· Donated an original set of Olympic plates to the Los Angeles Children’s Museum.
· Donated his time and talents at various local church functions in his hometown inMexico as well as in the United States. Providing caricature drawings for the masses.
· Created a painting that in turn was re-created into a collectible porcelain plate for the 8th Air Force Squadron (a World War ll squadron) All monies received were donated to charity.
· Created a painting of entertainer Marty Robbins that later was presented to Mr. Robbins’ widow at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee.
· Donated original painting of St. Jude to the Danny Thomas St. Jude Children’sResearch Hospital.
· Family donated painting “The Mailman” to Mr. Hugh Hefner’s private collection (2003).