I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet Mr. Bill Baker- one of the last surviving prisoners from Alcatraz when it was still serving as a Federal Penitentiary - when I first installed the "Art Escape at Alcatraz" exhibit in the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz. Before even approaching and speaking to Bill, I happened to pick up a copy of his book - ALCATRAZ - 1259 and flipped to the first sentence of Chapter Nine (page 79) and read:
"How did I wind up in Alcatraz? Good question. But I don't know; must have been something I did".
Well, that clinched it for me. Loved his tongue in cheek sense of humor and immediately knew that I was not only going to enjoy reading his book, but that if his book honestly reflected the man, I'd like Bill, too! Personally, I feel that his book should be on the NY TIMES bestsellers list. Such excellent writing that I asked Bill (with all due respect) if he used a ghost writer. "Nope" "Every word is my own",he responded. I said "Bill...you missed your calling. Instead of forging counterfeit checks, you should have been a writer!"
In the interim, I approached a few of the incarcerated artists I work with to create a portrait of Bill and here are three to share with you.
PS Bill is also an accomplished guitarist. Here's Bill Baker rockin’ at Alcatraz
PPS We all grow older and wiser and CHANGE! Enjoy!
Leslie Lakes, Director
Colored Pen Drawing by Trevor Jones; WA
Black Ink Drawing by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL
Portrait of Bill Baker by Phouc Nguyen; TX