The Art and Legacy of Rodolfo Escalera (1929-2000)

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 forbade him from pursuing art as a career. Consequently, Escalera decided to pursue architecture in order to appease his father, while simultaneously trying to satisfy 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 was then threw himself into the work force to help support his mother and two sisters. Eventually he landed a job in an architectural firm. All the while he continued to develop his painting technique.

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 employments, this was by far his most satisfying as he was given the Azteca account to manage, as well as a degree of creative license. Finally 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. This extra time enabled him to create and complete five incredible masterpieces over the course of 20 years!

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" presented to all of the visiting dignitaries from throughout the world. 

With several successes in 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 was also re-created in the form of a porcelain plate and was sold as the official gift of the championship throughout the world.

In 1988, 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.

Upon returning 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 his amazing God given gift.

Escalera lost his battle with cancer on January 25, 2000.

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