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Bailey’s Beautiful Bronze Raven

July 20, 2015

Here’s a great gift idea for children: boredom. As in, no external stimulation—no phones, no Internet, no TV, no amplified music, no friends for a while. No scheduled lessons, no practice, no church group, no athletic contests. What will they do?

They will have to develop their own stimulation, their own sources of contentment. No passive entertainment, no slot-machine-style stimulation of tapping buttons and swiping screens.

There is the gift—the capacity to be fully engaged in the world of one’s own accord. (I’ve met many young people in Salida who have been given this gift.)

I will say one joy working at the library has been that library staff members have had this capacity in diverse ways.

Even though he has shown his art in the library before, and even before he began working at the library, people are still surprised to learn Bailey Escapule the Artist is the same Bailey behind the circulation desk.

Instead of leaving you to your own devices, Bailey may have helped you negotiate a digital device, perhaps putting an audiobook on your smartphone or an ebook on your Kindle.

And others have known Bailey as a painter but have only just come to find out he was first a sculptor. There is a beautiful bronze raven on the circulation desk as part of his show, and nobody can resist touching it.

Bailey also made the life-size bronze sculpture of Dr. Leonardi that greets you as you enter the hospital. But the market for bronzes is perhaps even more uncertain than for oil paintings, and so Bailey is also a painter.

His subjects often come from his extensive travels. Bailey and R have traveled the world (I eat almost every day with chopsticks from Vietnam, a gift from them), and usually with just a backpack each. Near or far, Bailey will sometimes carry a painting kit for plein air sessions, as he did recently walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

When L and I were camping once with Bailey and R, the beautiful view at one point included Bailey standing in it with a portable easel, brush in hand. I don’t think he was just avoiding our company but rather was doing something many of us romanticize, such that the image of an artist in a landscape is almost more appealing than the landscape itself.

You might guess that as a sculptor Bailey enjoys figure painting, but surely that includes wildlife and other animals, such as “The Nanny,” showing a mother and baby goat under a tree. There’s“Gallo,” a chicken, as well as a horse, a calf. The show includes landscapes, too, from the broad view of “Above Maroon Bells” to a closer look at aspen trunks in a grassy grove.

His human subjects in this show are from, I think, Oaxaca and Guatemala. It makes sense that Bailey would travel. He comes from a foreign land—southeast Arizona around Tombstone. A strange place. Six generations of Escapules have lived there since the 1870s.

The show includes the artist’s bio but also an alternative bio by R, which points out that Bailey began his art at age two with the medium of crayon and proceeded from there. This is a valid start to a career, and it’s definitely one of the options parents might offer children for down time or periods of scheduled boredom.

Scrap paper and a box of crayons, or oil and canvas, are all one needs to see the world anew.

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