Jackson Bailey: Simple man with a big vision

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Joan Ekstrom

Joan Ekstrom

Rutledge News

By Joan Ekstrom

There is a local talent you should know, if you haven’t already heard about him, you may have seen his work. If you have ever crossed the Railroad tracks coming into downtown Rutledge and looked to your right, you have seen his work, The City of Rutledge Seal. Jackson Bailey designed this Seal for the city and it can be seen on the mural on what is now the location of Ele ‘n Honey.

But there is much more to know about this dynamic individual. Born in 1927 in Atlanta, Bailey suffered and survived many life threatening illnesses and events. He and his family came to believe that there was a great purpose for his life. And it all began with the simple gift of a paint set given to him at the age of 5 years old.

However, it would take time to reveal his life work. Bailey attended school in DeKalb County and studied History at the University of Georgia. For several years during the 1950s he worked as an Investigator in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Offices and later worked for the DeKalb County Building Inspector’s Department. His work for DeKalb County eventually led him to the honor of designing the official DeKalb County Seal and Flag, which is still in use today.

As with many talented artists, an idea began to take form that would become what many consider to be his lifetime achievement. The “Life of Christ” painting was begun by Jackson Bailey in 1968. It was at this time that he met his future wife, Beverly, who was then acting as chief of staff and artist assistant. The couple “fell madly in love” according to Mrs. Bailey, and married in 1974 and a daughter was born whom they named Kriscinda. Jackson and Beverly eventually moved to Rutledge in 1978 where they lived on seven acres, near downtown. It is in this location that the “Life of Christ” painting has found its permanent home.

Bailey researched the subject of this painting for seven years and considers it to be historically and geographically correct. Fine Belgian linen was used to create 50 canvases that comprise this piece. The “Life of Christ” oil painting has a height of 11 feet and is 1,000 feet in length. This painting was a massive undertaking, comprising 55 scenes illustrating meaningful events in Christ’s life on earth. A staff of 20 artists was employed to carry out this vision, with Bailey performing all layout and preliminary sketches. This work alone would be considered amazing for its scale and ambition, but it becomes even more amazing when you consider that Jackson Bailey’s ability in art had been entirely self-taught. And as he stated in an interview, “I didn’t need a worldly teacher. I had the greatest teacher of all at my side, Jesus Christ!”

Jackson Bailey passed away in 2004, but Mrs. Bailey keeps his art alive, sharing with all who would wish to view his lifetime achievement, the “Life of Christ” mural. The Jackson Bailey Art Center also features 50 years of collective artwork by Bailey, and is one more good reason for you to visit Rutledge… Small but Special.

For tour information contact Beverly Bailey: 678-332-8254 or 678-660-3610, or visit the Jackson Bailey Art Museum’s website.

Performing at the Gazebo

Purple Bob (Craig Neidlinger)

Folk music Friday, June 28, 7-9 p.m.

Downtown Rutledge

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