Sunday, May 19, 2019

Louisiana Lawyers Go West

Turquoise Hill with its ancient turquoise mine is an enchanting place ---spiritual, timeless, mysterious, and breathtaking in its beauty.  George and I visited many times over the years, beginning in the early 1990s.  We were guests of history, nature, and the mine’s incomparable owner and steward, George’s dear friend and now my husband, Douglas Magnus.


-click photos throughout to enlarge-
Pictured:  Douglas Magnus and George Rodrigue in the Tiffany Turquoise Mine, New Mexico, 2010. 

Located in the heart of the Cerrillos District near Santa Fe, New Mexico, Turquoise Hill is an unlikely locale for a Louisiana gathering.  And yet, old friendships and life’s circumstances are oftentimes a recipe for the unexpected and, in this case, a once-in-a-lifetime elegant dinner party within a turquoise mine!
Pictured:  The Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel (LADC) visits Turquoise Hill and the Tiffany Turquoise Mine near Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 2019

LADC President Mickey S. deLaup teamed with Kimberly Zibilich of Event Resources New Orleans and Terri Graves of DMC New Mexico to transport the Bayou State to the Land of Enchantment.  Douglas and I were thrilled to participate as surprise co-hosts for this esteemed gathering of Louisiana attorneys and their guests!

Pictured:  With Kimberly Zibilich and Douglas Magnus at Turquoise Hill, May 2019.  Douglas is also a renowned artist and silversmith, as evidenced by my bling! Learn and see more- www.douglasmagnus.com 

Before entering the mine, I shared with these Louisiana folks about their hometown son’s love for this sacred place –a connection so deep that he spoke of it even in the last weeks of his life.  On George's computer, I found a still deeper reference, undiscovered until a year after his death, in this artwork titled Cowboy Blue Dog (Our Cowboy).

Here is our springtime 2019 adventure in an ancient turquoise mine located in the Cerrillos District of New Mexico with the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel.  Enjoy!









And finally, Douglas calls the photo below “The Sermon on the Mount” ---snuck from behind while I was preaching Rodrigue!   I am extremely grateful to share George's life and art at any time, especially with the formation of the new Life & Legacy Foundation, but it was particularly special in this most bewitching of places, with a captive Louisiana audience ---made all the better with blue margaritas!

Many of these generous attorneys and new friends pledged on the spot their support for this programming.  Thank you, Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel!


Founded in 2019, based on arts education and museum exhibitions of the past two years, the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Foundation inspires audiences of all ages and diverse backgrounds with the life and art of George Rodrigue.  The Foundation seeks to expand George’s vision by showing how one person can overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams, while also making a positive difference in the world through the transformative potential of art.  Projects include museum exhibitions, education initiatives, an ongoing public lecture series, and written and online publications. 

As of May 2019, I have visited, personally, 72 schools in four states on the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour and shared with more than 35,000 students and teachers.  Furthermore, after three record-breaking museum exhibitions last year, the upcoming museum schedule, combined with education and community outreach, is an exciting and organic adventure!  Please join me!  Visit - https://georgerodrigue.com/life-legacy/today/


Wendy

-most photos provided by Event Resources; Sermon on the Mount by Douglas Magnus; Pontchartrain Elementary School above and Loranger Elementary School below by Douglas Magnus (May 2019).  Also see the recent post "Ursuline-Cool! George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Visits the Historic New Orleans School" linked here- http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2019/05/ursuline-cool-george-rodrigue-life.html

-and one more, because this melted my heart:

This extraordinary child and his blind yet searching eyes wanted to know what his peers were excited about. He wanted to experience George Rodrigue’s art. He touched this painting, coated by George with automotive sealer for this very reason, seeing with his hands, and experienced the swirls and hearts and brushstrokes of George Rodrigue. 

It was, perhaps, a gift from George to him and others; and it was, no question, the gift-of-a-lifetime for me. Thank you to the brave and precious. 

Photo by Douglas Magnus at Loranger Elementary School in Loranger, Louisiana, May 17, 2019.

Enjoy life, people!  Love!



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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Ursuline-Cool! George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Visits the Historic New Orleans School

It was 1994, for my cousin’s wedding, when I last visited Ursuline Academy.  That I forgot their magnificent church, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, confounds me.  This spring on the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour, I stood both transfixed and transported within this glorious temple to God and women and strength- the home to millions of prayers and boundless compassion blended with learning …and, to my greater surprise, ART! 


Founded in 1727, Ursuline Academy is the oldest Catholic school and the oldest continuously-operating school for females in the United States.  After some seventy schools in eighteen months on the Life & Legacy Tour, I’m pretty well-seasoned and rarely intimidated.  However, the fact remains that I’m an embodiment of religious ambiguity and attended a series of, albeit excellent, public schools in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  The very idea of Ursuline Academy, located in Uptown New Orleans, caused my brow to raise, just a bit.  Could I possibly relate to this house of history, pedigree, and piety?  And could they possibly relate to me?

I invited my cousin to join me for the adventure.  Kelly McClanahan Yeager graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1986.  Together we toured the school, church, and museum, swept away by this treasure-trove of culture, history, and faith.

Along the way, I learned that Kelly was a “Skip,” and that this was obviously an important characteristic, based on the cheers and broad smiles she received throughout the day.  I relaxed.  Kelly’s here, and she’s cool.  (And so is her super-cool oyster art and etsy shop.  Check it out-  https://www.etsy.com/shop/NOLAChickGifts).





Thanks to the boundless support of my team, Eldridge Tervalon, Douglas Magnus, and Douglas Shiell, I brought seven museum-quality, original George Rodrigue paintings, ranging in date from 1968 -2013, and shared them with the students over four hour-long sessions.  



The girls wore ‘casual blue’ in George’s honor, triply appropriate as not only their school color, but also the signature color of autism awareness month.  This important cause was beautifully interwoven into our day with a presentation by Amy Collins of the Beignet Fest and Tres Doux Foundation, "supporting New Orleans-area programs that serve children with developmental delays."  Learn more here- https://www.beignetfest.com/the-cause-mission/ 


In between, we admired paintings by students inspired by George Rodrigue.  They explored the classic oaks and contemporary dogs in their own creative ways, with exceptional artworks that both touched and awed. We also enjoyed lunch with Ursuline Academy President Karen McNay in her grand office, where we dined on crab cakes (a Lenten Friday delicacy), discussed our confidence in and admiration for today’s young people, and experienced McNay’s own enchanting paintings!




It was the last group, however, the 7th graders, that stunned me the most on this phenomenal day.  You see, up to now, I have funded this tour entirely on my own.  It’s brought me to schools not only throughout Louisiana, but also Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Florida.  This year we expand into California and Texas.  Funding it alone, I can’t sustain it.  And yet I must.  I have witnessed the transformative potential of art, inspired by George’s story and paintings, and there’s no going back. 


(pictured:  Immaculate Dog, 1992 by George Rodrigue, 36x24 inches, oil on canvas)

The students presented me with a check from funds they raised to help this programming.  Unbeknownst to them, it is the seed money for the all-new George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Foundation.  The money will help bring George’s original art and life story to rural schools, title 1 schools, and many others, both within Louisiana and nationwide.  These young Ursuline women empower me, as a woman who still feels like a girl, to fly.  I won’t let you down.





Thank you, Ursuline Academy, for welcoming me to your school and allowing me to share with you about the extraordinary man and artist, George Rodrigue.  You are humble, gracious, eager, generous, joyful, and super-cool!  Thank you for helping me to make a difference.  And thank you for inviting me back to visit with your high school students. You have inspired me, and I can’t wait!

Dream!  Create!  Embrace your ideas!  Make a difference!  Change the world!

See you in the fall, Ursuline girls-
Wendy




-See more photos and learn more about the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour and Foundation here- https://georgerodrigue.com/life-legacy/today/

-Photographs throughout by my husband, hero, and George's dear friend, artist Douglas Magnus, pictured here as we strolled the levy along the Mississippi River following our special day at Ursuline Academy.  











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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Five Years and a Library

It was five years ago tonight that George looked at me for the last time.  His eyes were bright and beautiful and child-like in their curiosity and faith.  For a long time, I struggled to remember anything but those last twenty-four hours.  I couldn’t get past that look, and especially my own fear that the faith he placed in me was misplaced, and that I made bad decisions that caused him pain.

Five years.  It’s nothing, really.  It’s yesterday.

At some point, finally, the stronger memories became the life we shared.  Beyond the actual experiences, I remembered the small, repeated things that I counted on, and that I miss the most ---his laughter, his conversation, the way he shook the ice cubes in his soda, the circular motion of his fingers scratching his head, the way he sheeshed and mmmed, and yes, the way he looked at me, and kissed me, the way his hand held the paintbrush, and then held me, just so, and the way he said my wife (George addressed me by my name only twice --- the day we married, and the day he died), and the way he reminded me and lectured me, always while pointing in my face:  When are you going to realize who you are?

George trusted me to care for his legacy and, I believe, to expand his vision.


As of last month, through the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour, I’ve now shared his story and paintings with sixty-three schools, plus museums, universities, and community groups --- in Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and throughout Louisiana.  The tour continues in 2019, expanding into Texas and California, with additional events in Florida and Louisiana.

Just like every person is special, every venue is special, and I’m beyond grateful for the tremendous response, and especially for the opportunity to see first hand how George Rodrigue inspires. His life and art are a testament to how one person can overcome obstacles to not only achieve their dreams, but also make a positive difference in the world.  George understood the transformative potential of art.  He didn’t believe in excuses, or even in trying.  He believed in doing.

Five years.  It’s everything, really.  It’s now.

The photograph above was taken in 2010 at The Dufrocq School in Baton Rouge.  Today, Dufrocq is a shining example of Louisiana A+ Schools – teaching all subjects through the visual and performing arts.  Last month they honored the person who brought art and inspiration to their school.  They renamed their library The George Rodrigue Media Center.

I can’t say that this recent Dufrocq School experience was my favorite, simply because to rate this wide collection of students and teachers and venues and communities would be impossible.  Every one of the sixty-three school experiences has been transformative, inspirational, and memorable.  However, the dedication of The George Rodrigue Media Center is a joyous and lasting tribute to a joyous and lasting spirit, and somehow these feel like the right photos to share today, on the eve of five years.

Thank you to the students, teachers, administrators, and everyone associated with The Dufrocq School, as well as the East Baton Rouge School Board, Louisiana A+ Schools, and the Baton Rouge community.

-photographs by Douglas Magnus; click to enlarge-








Five years.  It's no mystery, really.  It's love.


See you on the road in 2019-
Wendy
-Learn more about the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour, including scheduling, videos, and an all-new photo gallery here- https://georgerodrigue.com/life-legacy/today/

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art – Extended!

There’s no doubt that if George Rodrigue were here today, he would have painted for his current exhibition at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.  We talked about it some fifteen years ago as we watched the museum under construction, and again as we attended its opening exhibitions.  He dreamed of showing his work in this contemporary jewel-box space, while at the same time, in typical George-fashion, forbade me from submitting a request.  (“Asking a museum for a show is the kiss of death,” he often said.)

-click photos throughout to enlarge-
Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, OOMA’s reflective metal pods sprout between massive ancient oaks in an unlikely place- overlooking the beautiful white-sand beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The museum is a tribute to George Ohr (1857-1918), the self-proclaimed ‘Mad Potter of Biloxi,’ and a forerunner of contemporary art through his distinctive art pottery, on view within the permanent collection.


Two years ago, as George predicted, the museum proposed a Rodrigue exhibition.  However, without him here to create and design, the challenge was immense. How do we best present Rodrigue within this ultra-contemporary, high-ceilinged, single room space?  How do we surprise an audience just ninety miles from New Orleans that thinks they’ve seen it all?
In the past, most Rodrigue museum exhibitions have been retrospectives, from Cajuns to Blue Dogs, spanning forty-five years of paintings and sculpture.  It was clear from the beginning that this type of exhibition was incongruous with not only this atypical Gehry space, but also with George Rodrigue’s lifelong artistic rebellion.

As has happened repeatedly since losing George in 2013, we found the solution within his art.  Rodrigue’s Blue Dog:  Discovering Late Works on Canvas and Metal features twenty-five original artworks, many from the last year of George’s life and never before on public view.  Enjoy a glimpse of the exhibition in this short video for WLOX-TV Gulf Coast Weekend-
Also, a new interview, recorded live from the museum, with NPR for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, beginning at 18:19, linked here-
http://www.mpbonline.org/blogs/mississippiedition/mississippi-edition-monday-july-30th/


With more than twice the museum’s previous attendance, the Rodrigue exhibition is a showstopper!  Originally set to close August 15th, I’m thrilled to announce its extension, due to popular demand, through October 6, 2018.  
In addition, please join me at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art for a special encore Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.  Surrounded by these extraordinary late Rodrigue paintings, I'll share personal stories and insights from my wondrous journey with George.  A book signing follows, featuring The Other Side of the Painting (UL Press).

I also look forward to visiting Biloxi for education outreach in partnership with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, September 11-13.  For information, please contact OOMA’s Education Director, Pamela Cevallos, at 228-374-5547, ext. 108 or education@georgeohr.org
Finally, none of this would have happened without the dedicated, enthusiastic OOMA staff, lead by Director Kevin O'Brien, nor without the passion and hard work of everyone associated with Rodrigue Studios, especially our Curator of Exhibitions, Dana Holland-Beickert of Memphis, Tennessee.  With tremendous thanks to all of you, on behalf of myself, everyone who experiences this exceptional and unprecedented installation, and above all, the brave, creative genius, George Rodrigue.
"If you try to paint to please a public or a critic, you'll never create anything lasting, anything new, or anything purely your own." -G.R.
Wendy
-pictured above:  George Rodrigue with The Last Puzzle Piece; Carmel, California, 2013-
-learn more and purchase the OOMA exhibition poster ($50) at the ALL-NEW George Rodrigue website!  Linked here-
-for a related post, see "Remembering Old Biloxi," linked here-
-please join me in September for these events:
9/8, 3;30 p.m.  Gallery Talk and Book Signing, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, 386 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS, Tel 228.374.5547  FREE  Learn more here-
9/10, 5:30 p.m.  George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Presentation with Book Signing, Neal Auction Company, 4038 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA, FREE.  Seating is limited. RSVP fineart@nealauction.com  Learn more here-
-plus, Louisiana Children's Museum date, time, and details coming soon.
-OOMA video by Corey Hudson; most photographs by Douglas Magnus-


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