Thursday, August 18, 2011

Inspired by Louisiana and Scale (New Paintings)


George Rodrigue’s newest paintings, his most important collection in years coming out of New Orleans, are huge, most 4x6 feet or larger.  Normally he paints in his studio in Carmel Valley, California, with long days at his easel and, aside from the occasional houseguest, few interruptions. 

This year for the first time in more than a decade, we’re in New Orleans for the summer, foregoing our usual road trips and the central California cool weather in favor of a statewide Louisiana museum tour organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art (currently at the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge).


For George, this has made for less than ideal painting conditions, as our time in New Orleans is fragmented between lectures, foundation events, social obligations and more, as we follow through on our commitment to promote these exhibitions with personal appearances.

(pictured, Four for Mardi Gras, 2011, 42x78)


Surprisingly, we’ve never toured Louisiana in one concentrated, artsy trek.  In the past, George might show once every few years in a Louisiana museum, with interim exhibitions outside of the state.

I’m reminded of an exchange years ago at the Blue Dog CafĂ© when, upon hearing that we were on a thirty-city book tour, a woman asked, “All over Louisiana?”

George and I laughed about her comment for years, not realizing we would attempt that very thing, with museums rather than bookstores, and seven locations, rather than thirty, but an ambitious tour nonetheless.

Be sure and click these photos to enlarge the images-

(pictured, At the Head of the Red River, 2011, 48x72)


As a result, George paints in spurts, his least favorite way of working.  It’s for this reason that I’m surprised at the magnificent paintings coming out of his studio.  It turns out that, despite the interruptions, Louisiana inspires George more than ever. 

(pictured, Gator Aid, 2011, 48x60)


This tour, its events, and its visitors; the creative and eager children associated with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts; and especially the large walls of his new gallery space obviously affect George as he thinks creatively.


A number of the new paintings are related directly to the exhibitions, such as “Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River,” pictured above, on view currently at the LSU Museum of Art, and detailed in its own post here.

Most recently, however, George is thinking about Shreveport (Sept. 23 – Dec. 30), the last stop on the tour.  He has a long history with this northern Louisiana city (which I’ll detail in a blog post in a few weeks), and the idea of the red river sits well with an artist who focuses on color and strong design, even as he paints Louisiana, its rivers and roads blending as one, and its oak trees strong, repeated shapes since his earliest landscapes.

(pictured, Blue Dogs on the Red River, 2011, 40x60)


George Rodrigue's newest painting, Four Oaks for Four Dogs, finished just this week, combines his Oak Trees, Hurricanes and Blue Dogs, all in a swirling, abstract mass, reflective, he says, of his mood after months on the road enjoying the landscape, the people, and the oddly comforting heat of the state we love.

(pictured, Four Oaks for Four Dogs, 2011, 48x72)


See George Rodrigue’s latest original paintings, sprinkled throughout this post, at his gallery in New Orleans.


If you can't make it to the gallery, perhaps we'll see you in Baton Rouge or Shreveport, or even on the Florida Gulf Coast  where we present a series of lectures, school visits, and an exhibition late September with the Mattie Kelly Arts Center and Foundation (more details posting soon), or next summer in ....big announcement... the Texas Panhandle, for an exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art.

Wendy

I hope you enjoy “The Art of Self-indulgence,” my latest post for Gambit:  a few thoughts on being married to a high profile artist and on blogging in the first person--

For daily updates from George Rodrigue's tour and easel, my blog and more, please join me on twitter-




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6 comments:

  1. I think it's great that you are both touring the state and have the current exhibit in Baton Rouge.
    I also hope that you will consider, if you haven't yet done so, combining the art of the rose....along with whatever other magical combination, as " Shreveport" houses the American Rose Society's horticultural center. Few people in Louisiana even know about this, and even fewer know much about Shreveport..or that it houses America's main horticultural research center.
    I have enjoyed your posts, blogs and am a also an artist. In the past, I have sent messages to your other website when I find others online trying to copy the " Blue Dog" and sell it as their own.
    People need to be educated about copyright infringement and also professional integrity. There is only one George Rodrigue..and I wish you both continued success. So glad you are experiencing this intense heat...I lived briefly in the San Marino,CA area...no humidity...and a lovely area. Best wishes..Carpe Diem !! Cathy Hudgins Arnett..a fan

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  2. Read your article in Gambit. What is a writer but a person that puts their thoughts in to written word even if it is a journal that no one one reads until they are long dead. I enjoy reading your thoughts. They provoke my memories, inspire my musings, make me laugh, inform me and make me curious. So to that you are successful. Each writer chooses the subject that inspires them. For you that is currently George. Who knows what will inspire you in the future. Just remember those famous words from Dirty Dancing "Nobody puts Baby in the corner". So write if only for yourself. But I will keep on reading......... A very fateful reader

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  3. please pardon the incorrect spelling above. I am your faithful reader. I was writing quickly before I left to get my hair cut. In the car I realized my mistake. I am looking forward to your visit to Shreveport in September. I talked briefly with you when George was doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Shreveport. My preschool class loves his book. We do an art project using his blue dog image from the web site. again your faithful reader.......

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  4. Hi Cathy -- Many thanks for your comments and especially the info regarding Shreveport and the American Rose Society! That was news to both George and myself. Although still entrenched in Baton Rouge at the moment, we are looking forward to our road trip north. Shreveport has always been a favorite stop for both of us. We'll see you there!

    And Grandma Sandy -- Thank you for the encouragement! I am always so happy to know I have readers, and just when I'm thinking of cutting back a bit, I receive your message. Looking forward to seeing you in Shreveport as well. Should be a great time-

    Wendy

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  5. I look forward to meeting you both. I live in Greenwell Springs,but am formerly from Richmond, VA ( studied art at VCU,Richmond).So, I am not close to Shreveport..but did study and became a certified master gardener in 2000..through LSU's master gardener program in Baton Rouge. That is how I learned of the Rose Center in Shreveport.
    I really enjoy your posts !!! Keep on typing..you have lots of fans. Cathy Hudgins Arnett

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  6. Thanks Wendy. I just hate that I did not see the gallery when I was in the French Quarter in February 2011 on one of my treks to see my "Louisiana cousins" in St. Martinville, Broussard, New Iberia, Baton Rouge, and Pineville - and on the way - my cousin Gary Reed receiving cancer treatments in Houston. Next time I am in southern Louisiana I will definitely go to N.O. to see George's gallery.

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