Rodolfo Escalera also known as Rudy Escalera was the only son of a family of five, born in Gómez Palacio, Durango, Mexico in 1929. Escalera took to drawing at a young age, but was discouraged to pursue it by his father.
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. 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 offered to take on the project in his fathers absence. 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 Escalera's father died of a heart attack. In 1948 Escalera's 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. During this time Escalera continued to develop his painting technique after hours and on weekends.
By 1950 Escalera 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. Escalera was given the Azteca account as his to manage as well as a degree of creative license. Shortly after Escalera Returned to Mexico and married his childhood sweetheart Susana González. By 1961 the Escalera's had moved to Cerritos California and grown to a family of six. Escalera had by then opened his own advertising agency. During this time of self employment Escalera found the Time to create five of his "masterpieces" that took 20 years to complete.
In 1980 Escalera entered into the plate collector business. 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. The paintings were in turn converted into high 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.
Escalera's successes within the plate industry lead to his being 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. In 1988 Escalera Moved to an area near his home town in Lerdo, Durango, Mexico Upon returning, a neighboring city, Torreón, 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, Gómez 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. Escalera died of cancer six years later January 25, 2000. Below is a timeline of events throughout Escalera's life.
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* 1949 - Worked as a stencil cutter at Galindo and Burroughs, Los Angeles California.
* 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 -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. (New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Beverly Hills, California, South Bend, Indiana, Scottsdale, Arizona, Orlando, Florida as well as others.)
* 1983 -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 "Who's Who" of visiting dignitaries throughout the world. The list included the following:
o President Ronald Reagan
o Juan Antonio Samaranch – Then Chairman of the IOC
o Tom Bradley – Then mayor, Los Angeles California
o Paul Ziffren – Then Chairman of LAOOC
o William E. Simon – Then president of the USOC
o Peter V. Ueberroth – Then president of the LAOOC
o F. Don Miller – Then executive director of the USOC
o George Deukmejian – Then Governor of California
o Harry L. Usher – Then vice-president of the LAOOC
o Grace Montanez Davis – Then deputy mayor of Los Angeles
o City of Los Angeles
o United States Olympic Committee
o the Smithsonian Institution
o The California Museum of Science and Industry
o The California Museum of Natural History
o The Children's Museum of Los Angeles
* 1985 -Contracted to design and create a painting that would be converted into a limited edition commemorative collectible plate for the 1986 World Cup Soccer Championship held in Mexico City, Mexico.
* 1986-2000 - Retired and moved back to Gómez Palacio, Durango Mexico. Built his "dream hacienda" in Lerdo, Durango Mexico to pursue oil painting.
* 2003- Escalera Art Inc. was founded in July 2003 by Escalera's children, Laura Presutto (director), Rodolfo Escalera Jr.(director), Roberto Escalera (president) and Rachael Woods (director). The corporation was founded with the goal to promote Escalera's body of work to the mainstream art world and the world at large with the intention of establishing Escalera as one of the most important artists of the 20th century to emerge from Mexico.