Over the years George Rodrigue designed a number of labels for both wine and beer. Recently he created A Bouquet of Rosé for John Schwartz and winemaker Heidi Barrett. Their wine, Prêt à Boire, is a small production, French style rosé out of Napa Valley with a name meaning “ready to drink.”
George tempts us with his label art, and Heidi Barrett tempts us with her reputation and description:
The wine exhibits “flavors of strawberry, watermelon, sage and plum, with aromas of glazed pears, rose petals, wet stone minerality and floral fragrances with a creamy finish.”
I asked George about his painting:
The color pink is just before blue on the color wheel. The dog is preparing to change, to ripen. I tried to show that it’s the beginning of things. The wine is ready to drink, the flowers are blooming, and the dog is ready to turn blue.”
Yet this is not George’s first pink dog. In fact, the traditionally feminine color appears often in his paintings, contradicting George’s otherwise overt masculinity. His softer side dominates these canvases both in color and subject matter. This big-engine-loving, cowboy boot-wearing knife collector may write it off to the ‘color wheel,’ but I know better. (pictured, My New Friend Brings Me Sunshine, 2010)
Just this past week his sensitivity surprised even me when he welled with tears as the Boy Scouts of America presented him with the Distinguished Eagle Award. (story here)
George may not linger without a fuss in a garden, but he compliments my gardenia perfume and surprises me with flowers --- most often, tulips, as pictured at the bottom of this post.
Even in the post-Katrina "Dream Series" paintings, his darkest series in years, the color pink illustrates the fragmented work as George, like so many others, seeks a brighter mood and, hesitatingly, normalcy. (pictured, Hearts in Love, 2006)
Returning to landscape painting in recent years, George’s color palette often (although not entirely) rejects his dark, moody landscapes of the early 1970s in favor of bright colors and a more obvious abstraction. (pictured, acrylic landscape, 2009)
This year the giant Pink-a-Boo (below, 2007, 60x40 inches) tours the state of Louisiana with a collection of Rodrigue paintings from the New Orleans Museum of Art, an exhibition organized by Director Emeritus John Bullard in celebration of the museum's centennial. Already on view in Lake Charles and Monroe, the show moves next to Baton Rouge and Shreveport. (tour details here)
“It’s a pink Blue Dog!” I heard one child exclaim.
Most recently, George created Crazy Train, a remastered digital print (edition 10), combining his love of color, design and transportation.
Finally, I leave you with ripe Ponchatoula strawberries, a fresh-cut spring bouquet, and a reminder to George that there is more than one artist in the family.
Fortunately, he took the news well.
Thoughts on our New Orleans neighborhood, the Faubourg Marigny, in my latest post for Gambit’s "Blog of New Orleans," linked here