He had been inducted into the group.
“Everyone is applauding, and it’s kind of a surreal experience,” he said. “Honestly, I started crying just because I knew the importance of it, and then, you know, as an artist you always have that doubt all the time. So you kind of go there thinking, “Well, I don’t know if they’re really going to like what I brought,” and you keep telling yourself that. So when you finally get that (recognition)… it’s been a relief. “
Bailey was inducted alongside fellow Western artist Jack Sorenson. With the addition of Baily and Sorenson, there are now a total of 19 active members in the group, as well as 15 Distinguished Members. Bailey is only the second current Nebraskan to be inducted into the Cowboy Artists of America. The other member is Phil Epp from York. There is another Distinguished Fellow from Nebraska, Herb Mignery, who grew up in Bartlett but currently resides in Colorado.
Bailey originally grew up around Cheyenne, Wyoming, participating in much of what one might consider “typical” Western culture. He hunted with his father and rode bulls competitively, even going so far as to be part of the Laramie County Community College rodeo team.
Bailey said he became interested in art to express his experiences growing up.
“I started hunting with my dad when I was a kid,” he said. “Then my way of documenting that – some people write about it and my way of expressing my experience was to try to draw this. And so, I started to take my experiences from that time and kinda started to get used to it when I was in college. And you know, people were like, ‘Wow, you should keep chasing this. “