Although partial to paint on canvas, George Rodrigue experiments often with other mediums, creating the unexpected within his signature subjects. Printmaking is the most obvious other than painting, particularly his Cajun festival posters and Blue Dog silkscreens.
(click photo to zoom, a cameo glass vase within Rodrigue's home; the painting Loup-garou, 1991, hangs in the background and will be on display, along with the vase, in the upcoming LSU Museum of Art exhibition)
Other mediums include both Cajun and Blue Dog sculptures in bronze, furniture designs, fiberglass cows and human figures, thousands of sketches, including pastel and charcoal renderings, rug designs, cowboy boots, clothing, jewelry, pottery, neon, and recently large scale Blue Dog works in chrome, aluminum, and steel.
(pictured, Rodrigue stands with a fiberglass cow, detailed in this post, installed this week at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center adjacent to the LSU Museum of Art at the Shaw Center, and host to several related Rodrigue museum events).
Between 1993 and 1995 George Rodrigue worked with Kelsey Murphy and Pilgrim Glass in West Virginia to recreate his Blue Dog designs as cameo glass. The layered pieces are sandblasted, revealing Rodrigue’s raised patterns in three bowls and a vase, each in editions of thirty-five. (An early Rodrigue landscape, also scheduled for the LSU exhibition, hangs in the background)
With the exception of the glass, bronzes, and some jewelry, Rodrigue created these novelty items for his own collection and experimentation, offering very few for sale. For this reason, the bulk of these works remain in his private archives.
(pictured, one of two goblets Rodrigue created with Pilgrim Glass in 1994 as mementos from his reign as King of the Washington D.C. Mardi Gras; he presented the matching glass to Queen Kate Graham; the painting Immaculate Dog from 1992 hangs in the background)
The upcoming George Rodrigue exhibition, “Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River,” at the Louisiana State University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, July 23rd – September 18th, features examples from most of these mediums. Rodrigue installed the smaller items this week, interspersed with his memorabilia in the museum’s large display case.
(Be sure and click the photo to zoom; notice the Pilgrim glass vase, the Amuse Bouche etched wine bottle, and Rodrigue’s Blue Dog cowboy boots)
Of these novelty items, the glass pieces most often elicit audible gasps from viewers. Generally, people seem surprised by the quality of craftsmanship. Rodrigue is a perfectionist when it comes to his art, and he explores each idea to its fullest, in some cases taking years to find the best materials for his vision, as with his recent chrome mixed medias, pictured below and detailed here.
In 2004 Rodrigue again experimented with glass, this time with large relief pieces (30x21 inches) suspended between iron poles. He completed only three such works, two in blue and one clear, as he struggled with imperfections in the thick glass.
Ironically, Rodrigue’s favorite glass piece comes from his friend, Steve Santillo, who co-owns the Blue Dog Café and Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro in Lafayette, Louisiana with George’s sons. He surprised Rodrigue several years ago with a stained glass version of the painting Dependence, transformed by Santillo’s own hand. Recently Rodrigue worked Santillo’s piece into the architectural elements of the new offices of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts at 747 Magazine Street in the New Orleans Arts District.
The original painting remains in Rodrigue’s personal collection and, when available, echoes Santillo’s work within the GRFA offices. Although the stained glass remains on Magazine Street, Dependence, detailed in the post ‘The Abstract Paintings,’ heads to Baton Rouge next week for the LSU exhibition.
For a list of events related to the upcoming George Rodrigue exhibition (July 23 – Sept 18, 2011) at the LSU Museum of Art visit here
And for fun this week, I hope you enjoy the excitement and danger of ‘Swamp Women’ at my blog for Gambit’s Best of New Orleans