Michael Bailey (Zebra) : Street Artist

On Saturday June 22, thanks to a generous gift from a good friend, I went to the Yankee night game versus the Astros. After the game, while walking back to the 153rd St. MetroNorth station, I caught a glimpse of a portly man sitting on the pavement, surrounded by hand painted pictures of various  sports icons. I pushed my way through the crowd and was drawn to the picture of Aaron Judge swinging his bat. Pointing to the picture, I asked the artist, “How much for this one?” He answered, “All are $5.” He rolled it up for me, secured it with a rubber band, I protected it in a packed train car and  safely got it back to my car. I framed it, hung it on the wall and lamented not having also purchased the drawing of Saquon Barkley. I looked for the artist on Sunday, Old Timer’s Day, but didn’t see him. On Monday morning I noticed that there was a website on the bottom of the drawing. On the website was a “contact us” number. I called and it was the artist who answered the phone. His name is Michael Bailey.  I told him that I wanted to purchase his paintings of Saquon Barkley, Reggie Jackson and another two of Aaron Judge. He told me that he would be sitting on the corner of 161st St and River Avenue, near the Apple Bank, before that night’s game. I approached him, introduced myself as the caller from that morning and handed him a copy of my children’s book, Milton’s Moment. He eagerly took it, fist bumped me and thanked me. We chatted for a while and I told him I would see him after the game and pick up my pictures. I left the game after the seventh inning with the Yanks safely leading the Blue Jays, 10-2 and went to find the artist. He was again sitting in his spot against the wall on the right, accompanied by his drawings. Michael gathered my choices, put them into a plastic sleeve and gave them to me. We then had a very long conversation which led to me inviting him to dinner after the day game on Wednesday.  The Yanks defeated the Jays 8-7 on Wednesday and I then met Michael as he sat under a tree on 161st St, directly across from Babe Ruth Plaza, being visited by a crowd of people wanting to purchase his pictures. After he packed up his wares, we walked east on 161st St to Gerard Ave., to dine in the Yankee Tavern. We spent a few hours talking and became friends. Michael is homeless and has been since 2007. He spends most of his time in Chicago and comes to the Stadium on long Yankee home stands. He was headed to Cleveland the next day on Amtrak to sell his pictures at the All-Star game and then back to the Bronx on Thursday July 11. I will be seeing him tomorrow and will be taking him to see his first Yankee game on Saturday afternoon. He is an extremely talented and well educated man, having both a BA and an MBA. I am hoping to help him get back on his feet. If you are at the Stadium this weekend, look for him and his sports paintings ( he also had numerous drawings of historical and entertainment icons) You can buy them for only $5. If you contact me and tell me which pictures you want, I will get them for you and see that you get them. You can visit his website at artofzebra.com.  Hopefully many of you will step up and give him your support.

On Saturday, July 13 I took Michael to his first Yankee game. Michael has sat outside Yankee Stadium selling his prints for a few years but had never seen the inside of the ball park. The Yanks lost to the Blue Jays, 2-1. On Sunday July 14, after he Yankees defeated the Jays, Michael and I again had dinner at the Yankee Tavern. He told me that he would be spending the upcoming week in Brooklyn, sleeping in the street. I was deeply affected by his ability to handle things as they came. I asked him to come to my home the following weekend. I picked Michael up at the Ossining MetroNorth station on Friday evening July 19. I had him stay at the Edith Macy Conference Center on Chappaqua Road. He had a beautiful air-conditioned room at the top of the mountain. After taking his first shower in over 6 weeks Michael put on new clothes and we met him for breakfast in the hotel dining room. After a delicious meal, I took Michael to the Village Book Store in Pleasantville, where he spent a few hours signing the prints of his drawings and paintings. The late afternoon was spent in Yogolicious on Marble Ave. again signing his prints. It was through the generous efforts of Lynda Ledeerer-Natale and the kindness of the owners of both stores that these appearances were able to happen. On Sunday July 21,we had a wonderful breakfast with Michael at our home and spent the morning and early afternoon enjoying the beautiful weather sitting on the deck and talking. John Sebalja, the generous owner of the World Cup in Chappaqua, treated us to lunch and then it was off to the Croton-Harmon RR station so that Michael could catch the Amtrak train to Chicago.

On Thursday August 1, Michael returned to Chappaqua from Chicago. John Sebalja and I met Michael’s train at the Amtrak station and enjoyed a dinner meal together at Capricio ll  in Croton. It was an exhausting 19 hour trip so I drove Michael to his room at the Edith Macy Conference Center for a good night’s sleep. I will be helping him sell his prints outside Yankee Stadium at the Yankee-Red Sox game on Friday night August 2 , the doubleheader on Saturday August 3 and the Sunday night game on August 4. 40801508_1563798526803341_r.jpeg40801508_1563798566502944_r.jpeg40801508_1566834002767964_r.jpeg40801508_1566834091562962_r.jpeg40801508_1566834257314060_r.jpeg40801508_1566834402639616_r.jpeg40801508_1566834456167516_r.jpeg40801508_1566834213537678_r.jpeg40801508_1563798619338426_r.jpeg40801508_1563798674457621_r.jpeg40801508_1563798702527787_r.jpeg40801508_1564022412935393_r.jpeg40801508_1563798805265243_r.jpeg40801508_156402235726997_r.jpeg40801508_1564766634513306_r.jpeg40801508_1564766660331751_r.jpeg


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Jeff Gilbert 
Chappaqua, NY
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