Monday, March 28, 2011

Mixed Medias: A Special Series on Board

In the past, I wrote extensively about George Rodrigue’s mixed medias.  Usually he tacks large-scale silkscreen images of simple dogs onto the wall of our garage, painting, even doodling, on the heavy paper prints with unblended colors straight from the can or tube.  He uses large brushes and works quickly, often painting a dozen pieces at a time.  (See the post “Blue Dog:  Mixed Media”)

Recently, however, he returned to his studio and painted a new series of these works on illustration board, creating a complete collection unlike his familiar mixed media style.




These combinations of silkscreen prints and acrylic paint, all from 2011, are smaller in scale, at 20x24 inches.  Because they are on board rather than paper, the pieces frame well without glass.  As a result, the texture and effect of these works closely resembles a painting on canvas.

Although combinations of paint and print, each of these mixed medias is one-of-a-kind, completely unique in its final form.  George repeats themes of flowers, hearts, hurricanes, and oak trees, combined with the Blue Dog in colorful compositions.


These new works exhibit a significant amount of depth and detail, unusual within George’s large-scale mixed medias on paper.  In both cases, however, his love of color and whimsy belie his serious approach.  In at least one case, a ghostly dog appears barely visible within the trunk of a typical Rodrigue oak tree.


Painted with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in mind, George finished the last of these works this past weekend.  They’ll be framed and hanging in the new location of his New Orleans Gallery in time for Jazz Fest, mid-April.

Wendy

See the post “Blue Dog:  Mixed Media” for related photographs, artwork, and information

George Rodrigue has a long history with Jazz Fest.  For the whole story, see Part 1, featuring portraits of Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson and Pete Fountain; and Part 2, featuring George’s portrait of Al Hirt, as well as our favorites from other artists of the poster series

I hope you also enjoy "A Night at the Opera," featuring Rodrigue's artwork for the New Orleans Opera Association, plus much more, at this week’s Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tennessee

“They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!” –Blanche DuBois, T.W.

I cannot remember a time that I existed unaware of Tennessee Williams. And yet, the truth is that I discovered him like a déjà vu only twelve years ago. It was 1999, and George Rodrigue and I contemplated leaving Lafayette, Louisiana, George's hometown of more than thirty years, and living instead in New Orleans.

Although we have long and separate personal histories* with the city, we hoped to understand it better, to make a committed move based not only on the obvious practical reasons, but also on the less obvious passionate ones.

Our colorful research included related fiction: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, and Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. George, who prefers his fiction shortened and dramatized, listened to my nightly summaries as though we sat around a campfire, telling stories like cowboys.

(pictured above, Thinking About Blanche by George Rodrigue, the official poster for the 2006 Tennessee Williams Festival, New Orleans)

It was Tennessee Williams and A Streetcar Named Desire that enchanted us on screen. We watched the movie together late one night and sat so stunned and yet talkative at the end that we watched it through again, finishing near daybreak, as I searched for critical analyses on-line.

“We will see [Blanche] progress from the sexual ‘desire’ that caused her to lose her job as a schoolteacher, to a mere desire for ‘rest!,’ to the burial of her hope for redemption, to her going mad, which might be seen as a crossing over to a ‘paradise’ beyond personal responsibility (thus the allusion to the classical Greek concept of the Elysian Fields).” (“A Streetcar Running Fifty Years,” by Felicia Hardison Londré, The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams, Cambridge University Press, 1997)

I read Williams’ Memoirs out loud in 2000 during our annual cross-country drive. Along the way I learned the name of my new godchild, Quinn Tallulah, and saw this as a sign not of forthcoming debauchery (she’s a delightful young lady!), but of inherent mystery and intriguing coincidences. Here was a name, new to me, and suddenly the subject of books, a famous actress, and a new life.

(pictured, Quinn Tallulah Lewis, photographed by Tabitha Soren, 2006)

We stopped in Archer City, Texas, home of The Last Picture Show, and explored the deserted downtown buildings, piled high with used books. I found a clerk, a person at last, standing on a ladder rearranging dusty titles. He grumbled at my request, yet spent three hours piling up coffee-stained, soft-covered scripts by Tennessee Williams and elephant-sized Hollywood picture books featuring Tallulah Bankhead. It was not until we paid the bill, using every scrap of our cash down to the meter-change in the ashtray, that our helper introduced himself as Larry McMurtry, author of, according to George, “the only book of fiction worth reading,” Lonesome Dove.

We returned home to an 1835 Creole townhouse in the Faubourg Marigny, two blocks from the Mississippi River (and the streetcar line) and two blocks from Elysian Fields. Tennessee Williams, according to the passing tour guides, spent time here.

To celebrate our move, my friend Beverly in New York City sent me an autographed first edition of Dotson Rader’s Cry of the Heart (1985, Doubleday). Inside she included a note:

“I’m sending you this Dotson Rader memoir of Tennessee Williams that I found today at the Strand. I also have the book, which I purchased when it came out. I remember it as being quite dishy. Having told me that you’ve now an interest in Williams after having seen ‘Streetcar,’ I thought you might enjoy the book also.”

(pictured, Portrait of Beverly Friedman by George Rodrigue, 1989)

And indeed I did, even more than Williams’ Memoirs (1975, Doubleday & Company, Inc.), a book I found distractingly ‘dishy,’ yet interspersed with intriguing references, such as the playwright’s brief encounter with artist Jackson Pollock, who could

“paint ecstasy as it could not be written…”


…and his close friendship with actress Tallulah Bankhead, a woman who…

“…always impressed me by her honesty and her gallantry and her lack of shame. It is a quality I have discovered in Southern ladies of a certain kind. …I suppose you could say Tallulah was a tramp, in the elegant sense.”


(pictured above, Tallulah Bankhead played Blanche DuBois on stage in 1955. According to Rader’s biography, “Because of … Bankhead’s excessive use of liquor and drugs, the play was a failure. Most of the audience, including Tennessee, couldn’t understand half of what she said.”)

This Saturday, March 26th, marks the 100th birthday of author and playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983). Although beloved worldwide for his soulful, yet enigmatic analysis of the human experience, it is in New Orleans that we spy his characters in reality, as though the coincidences in his life intersect with the coincidences in our own.

His goal in writing, he said, was “just somehow to capture the constantly evanescent quality of existence.” Although he experienced a love-hate relationship with both his audience and critics during his lifetime, there are few today who would debate his success. Yet perhaps Tennessee too would have felt at home on a ladder, rooting through old stories, seeing old friends and reassurances within each title.

“I don’t have any sense of being a fulfilled artist.” -Tennessee Williams, from his memoirs-

Wendy

*for a bit of New Orleans nostalgia visit “Looking Back” and “For New Orleans

The Tennessee Williams Festival celebrates the playwright’s 100th birthday and the festival’s 25th year, March 23-27, 2011. For information visit www.tennesseewilliams.net

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Dog

I asked George Rodrigue earlier this week, “Any thoughts on the color green?”

“Trees,” he said.

A bit disappointed in my creative artist, I followed up……. “Okay, how about thoughts on the Irish?”

“Emer,” he said, referencing our Irish friend from New York.

Turns out that George does not remember hearing of St. Patrick’s Day until adulthood.

“No pinching?” I asked.

“For what?” he replied.

(pictured above, The Three Brothers United, acrylic on canvas, 2008)

Determined to blog on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m faced with no stories and little text. Rather than give up, I perused the archives and found a collection of appropriate paintings, sprinkled throughout this post.

(pictured below, In the Greenhouse Again, acrylic on linen, 2000)

For a guy who (this is the truth) asked me yesterday,

“What date is St. Patrick’s Day this year?,”

…George embraces green, and not only in the trees.

(pictured below, Blue Moon at Midnight, acrylic on linen, 2010)

In honor of our friend Emer Ferguson, who introduced us to Cadbury Chocolates, Mini Shepherd’s Pies, and Irish Coffee with Delectable Cream, George and I honor the Irish not only today, but often throughout the year. Although we avoid the Irish whiskey and the stout Guinness beer, we toast Emer and her country on St. Patrick’s Day with a glass of champagne (on my part) and a collection of green paintings by George.

(pictured, Born with a Green Thumb, acrylic on linen, 2001)

I also share with you a few of my favorite Irish authors, recommending Anne Enright’s The Gathering and Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, both excellent titles gifted to me by my Irish friend.

(pictured, Don't Grow Grass on Me, acrylic on linen, 2001)

Finally, I leave you with an Irish blessing and wishes for a Happy St. Patrick’s Day-

“May the light always find you on a dreary day.

When you need to be home, may you find your way.

May you always have courage to take a chance

And never find frogs in your underpants.”*

Wendy

*Undated, Anonymous

Pictured above, Emer Ferguson and Jacques Rodrigue

For a New York museum adventure with Emer, see the post “Miniatures: Manuscripts, Landscapes, Blue Dogs and Blogs"

I hope you enjoy this week’s post for Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans: “Just Another Old Dress … Or Not,” a fashion story about finding one’s own style, including vintage clothing versus just plain old-

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Swamp Women (An Encore Presentation)

Celebrating my birthday and the Ides of March with an encore presentation of.......

Swamp Women

“Oh, this stinkin’ swamp water stinks!” –from the movie Swamp Women, 1955

Early on the morning of October 31st I met George Rodrigue in the garage for the two-hour drive to Lafayette, Louisiana, where we were to meet some friends from California at the Blue Dog Café. I was running late.

“What are you wearing?!” he exclaimed. “We’re going on a swamp tour!”

Dressed for the day in a skull-covered pirate dress, over-sized spider rings, and spiky heels, I hollered at him as I ran back to the house for my flip-flops and bug spray:

“Swamp tour? I thought we were going to brunch!”

In Lafayette we joined our friends the Pistos and Ricciardis, visiting from Carmel in search of southwest Louisiana’s best boudin and pecan pie, as Chef John Pisto scouted locations for his television cooking show.

We enjoyed an excellent brunch at the Blue Dog Café, with the added bonus of Cajun Swamp fiddler Hadley Castille, who sat in with the Wildflowers Band (and who also happened to play at our wedding).

From Lafayette we drove through Breaux Bridge to the town of Henderson, where we crossed the levee to McGee’s Landing and the edge of the Atchafalaya Swamp.

“Great news!” announced George, after negotiating our afternoon with Captain David (pictured below) in the corner of McGee’s Bar, “We’re taking an airboat!”

Now I’ve been on dozens of swamp tours in my life, all on pontoon-type, roomy tour boats. The closest I’d gotten to an airboat was reruns of Gentle Ben (1967-1969).

“What’s an airboat?” asked our guests in chorus.

“Has Captain David been drinking?” I asked George, under my breath.

Within minutes we heard the roar of the airplane-type engine approaching the floating dock. I saw mouths moving in the shape of “Oh No!” but heard no one. Our captain motioned to our seats…

“Put the ladies in the front,” screamed George…

…as we donned our headphones and entered a silent movie.

With one life preserver and no seat belts, it was just us, a bench, and the swamp. Captain David accelerated into the makeshift waterway for less than a minute before turning hard right into the lilies, the cypress knees, and the shallow black water.

(pictured, Cajun Paddle Shop, 1985; the Cajuns traveled the swamp in canoe-type boats called pirogues)

Inaccessible to boats with underwater engines, this is a part of the swamp I’d never seen. I spoke out loud to myself in amazement at the beauty, and as I write this post I feel compelled, before recounting the chaos to follow, to get serious for a moment:

“When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place - a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow of Nature.” -Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I thought of the magnificent things I’ve seen in my life --- our week-long rafting trip on the Colorado River; the birth of my nephews; the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence --- and I recognized immediately such an event. I wondered at the azure blue dragonflies alighting on my shoulders, the alligators peering from among the lilies, and the herons and ducks and egrets reminding us of the shallow water as they walked near the boat.

And I thought about the Cajuns, harvesting these cypress trees in the mid-18th and 19thcenturies, trees that grow slowly, struggling after all these years to once again fill the swamp.

(pictured, Fur Trappers, oil on canvas by George Rodrigue, 1974)


“In another century the trees will be back,” said George.

(pictured, George's only painting of a cypress tree, 1969; for a detailed history, visit here)


As we sat in silence, lost in our thoughts, Captain David moved on, ‘deeper into the swamp.'

With nothing but each other to hold onto, we raced (quietly praying that the animals get out of the way and the lilies are tougher than they look) through large areas of plant life, even flying over dry land on occasion, until we grew confident in our captain’s abilities.


Yet as we headed full speed towards an eight-foot bank, I thought surely he was turning; and as we hit the mound of earth and flew straight up, I thought surely this wasn’t happening; and as we nose-dived towards the deeper black water on the other side, I thought surely (as I screamed at the top of my lungs for no one to hear) this was not the way I would die; and as the five-foot swamp wave barreled over the bow and into our laps and down (and up) my festive dress, I went into shock.


The motor died, the women sat dripping in slime and disbelief, and the men sat bone-dry, doubled over with cramps of laughter.

Collecting himself, Captain David approached us cautiously with his apologies and a single useless towel.

“Aw my Gawd,” said the Cajun, shaking his head. “Ladies, I am so sawry. In twenty years dat ain’t ne’er hap’nd.”

Without looking at the men, we women heard their laughter and knew that they were worthless as heroes. As I plucked the snails off of his wife’s backside, Tony choked out,

“I thought we were stuck like a dart!”

Dripping in green gradeaux,* we ladies wrung out our clothes and wiped our tears (of laughter or disbelief or some swamp disease or whatever) with the towel, while the men worried about the dead engine.

“Look, there’s the interstate,” pointed George. “This water can’t be more than four or five feet, and you ladies are already wet…”

I gave him the scariest look I could muster and then laughed some more, imagining us standing in the black swamp water fifty feet below the highway, waving down a passing motorist.


Barbara was the first of the women to speak:

“My mouth was open as we went in. Do you think I’ll get cholera?”

At last the engine caught and we sped back to McGee’s Landing, where whiskey seemed the only suitable libation to recount our adventure and toast the dry land. Barbara, Cheryl, and I stood on the deck, unable to handle the a/c in our soaked condition, and stared through the window at our husbands:

“If you look at the guys,” Barbara observed, “you’d never know that we almost died.”
"...on Halloween, covered in the monster mash," continued Cheryl.
We refocused, however, as we watched the sun set over the Atchafalaya Swamp.

We could hear them, still laughing, as George told the story of him and Dickie in 1950s New Iberia, chased into the swamp by the sheriff after Dickie shot one of the Trajan brothers in the stomach with a pebble-loaded bb gun.

“We knew how to stay dry,” said George, “but that sheriff was up to his waist in swamp water before he found our tree house. Boy was he mad.”

(pictured, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, painted by George Rodrigue at Boy Scout camp in 1960)

Following the two hour drive home, I took the second longest and hottest shower of my life,* spending a good half hour afterwards cleaning the gradoux* off of the tiles.

In my dry soft cotton pajamas, I crawled into bed where next to me I found, in place of my husband, a painting.

“What’s this?” I called downstairs, where George watched the tail end of the Saints game.

“It’s a present. You were a great sport today. Happy Halloween!”

Wendy

*the first longest and hottest shower of my life was following our week-long rafting trip in the Grand Canyon

*gradoux: basically, any icky unidentifiable substance

-for more of George's paintings of bayous and Cajuns, see the links under 'Popular Musings' to the right of this post

-all photographs in this post by George Rodrigue, October 2010

-also by Wendy Rodrigue, weekly posts at Gambit's Blog of New Orleans

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Butterflies Are Free

When I asked George Rodrigue this week for the title of his newest silkscreen print, he said,

“Did we have one called ‘Butterflies Are Free’?”

Not only do we have one, I reminded him, (it was his first piece with butterflies, featured later in this post), but also he suggests that same title for every similar painting since.

Butterflies, or more likely, the idea of sprouting wings and traveling freely between flowers and fence posts, recur as a theme often in George’s work since the mid-1990s.

(pictured, Butterfly Blues, 2011, a silkscreen design completed this week, 24x18 inches, edition of 350)

This interest in butterflies began with several projects for the department store Neiman Marcus, which commissioned three paintings as catalogue covers, all featuring their winged mascot. Butterflies are Free (below), painted in 1996, graced the cover of their men’s catalogue. The butterfly leaves the rug and flies alongside the Blue Dog.

Hawaiian Blues (below) celebrated the 1998 opening of Neiman Marcus’s Honolulu location at Ala Moana Center. The butterflies travel across the painting, or rather across the spine of the catalogue, and form a lei around the dog’s neck. As with the figures in his Cajun paintings and the Louisiana landscape, both the dog and the butterflies appear to be cut out and pasted onto the atmosphere of an old Hawaiian postcard.

In The Millennium (1999, below), an Egyptian holds a star, inspiring the spiritual birth of creativity, enduring through the Dark Ages as symbolized by a Viking ship, and flying as the Blue Dog, born in Louisiana from a mass of butterflies, into the 21st century.

(Note: for a detailed history of the three Neiman Marcus paintings, along with Rodrigue’s relationship with the department store, visit the post “Blue Dog Man: 1996-1999”)

George’s overt masculinity, his deep voice, fast cars and cowboy boots (reminding me of that line from a Zorro movie, “He was very vigorous, father”), belie this interest in a delicate, near-floating insect flitting between blossoms on our courtyard patio.

(Happy Birthday, George! March 13th)

This is especially true with regards to the Blue Dog Man, the notion of George himself as the Blue Dog, commenting through his paintings on life today. Rather than sitting before the oak tree like Evangeline, the dog, carried by butterfly wings, flies within the Louisiana landscape, transforming a “dreary, monotonous place,” as described by his early critics, into the colorful bayou country of George’s imagination.



(pictured above, all 2008, acrylic on canvas: Night Light Flight; Breaux Bridge Shoe-fly; Don’t Bug Me at Night)

Never is this truer than in his most recent silkscreen, Butterfly Blues, pictured at the top of this post. Even sans wings, the dog veritably flies through George’s Oz-like Acadiana.

Wendy

Pictured above, our living room, New Orleans. Notice on the side table, George’s dime store version of Puppy, which he painted blue, alongside Jeff Koons’ famous ceramic sculpture

I hope you also enjoy “Avoiding Politics: a Series of Vignettes Shape a Political Agnostic,” featuring Rodrigue’s paintings, photographs, and commentary in this week’s Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Museums and Critics, an Early History

“I’m a survivor.” George Rodrigue, 2011

In 1969 the Art Center of Southwest Louisiana held George Rodrigue’s first solo museum exhibition. Located in Lafayette at the University of Southwest Louisiana, the museum, also known as the Pink Palace, existed within a Mississippi River-style plantation, surrounded by huge columns and designed by architect A. Hays Town.

“USL offered to show my work,” says George Rodrigue, “because of the notoriety from my first show, held earlier that year at Christopher’s Antiques in New Iberia. I had painted full time less than a year at this point, and it all happened so fast that I mistakenly thought that fame and fortune were around the corner.”

Despite his somewhat caustic recollection, a young George Rodrigue (b. 1944) did experience a rush of attention for a few years in the early 1970s. Most significant, the Louisiana State Art Commission sponsored a large Rodrigue exhibition at the Louisiana State Museum in the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge in 1970.
“The director first told me that they book shows three years ahead, and that I was wasting my time in trying. But two months later he called and explained that the scheduled exhibition fell through. Did I still have seventy framed oak tree paintings available? 
“This was my biggest break yet, because I might be reviewed in the newspaper by the Baton Rouge art critic. As the state capitol’s paper, The Morning Advocate was widely read and held tremendous influence across the state. I waited anxiously every week for an article about my show.”

George framed his landscape paintings in large gold antique frames, most of which he found in junk shops and flea markets. To this date, just prior to his Aioli Dinner, he painted only two figures, small imaginary portraits, Cajun Man and Cajun Woman.



To his surprise, he opened the Advocate one Sunday to find his first ever newspaper article, a half page review with images. The headlines nearly destroyed this otherwise confident artist, “Painter Makes Bayou Country Dreary, Monotonous Place.”


Art critic Anne Price derided both the artist and his art with her public opinion, words committed to George’s memory even today:
“The total effect is repetitious and monotonous, with all of the scenes similar, the treatment never varying… His paintings are flat and drab rather than teeming with life. His bayou country is a shadowy, depressing place with none of the life and color that pulses there. Even his few portraits are somber affairs, and his people give the impression that life is hard and serious business. One feels that the artist takes Acadiana much too seriously, and perhaps himself as well.”


George also memorized her fail-safe, written as though she knew her criticism might miss the mark:
“He shows some competence as a painter, particularly in his use of light…but he repeats the same theme and technique in virtually every painting. The ability is there, plus the obvious dedication to his subject, and he may well develop into a first class painter…”

I was amused to find a rather charming photograph of an elderly Anne Price, a woman I always imagined an ogre, along with a 2006 Advocate story of her sixty-one years at the paper linked here. She and George never met, and yet at this point, I believe he would smile and shake her hand. She had a profound and lasting effect on him. Personally, the experience gave him self-confidence. In twenty years, I have yet to see George rattled by negative remarks or criticism. Professionally, this resulting self-confidence helped him soar as an artist, barking at the canons and societal pressure of contemporary art, and rejecting outside advice in both his art and business.

(pictured, Rodrigue's most recent painting: Cajuns and Blue Dogs on the River 2011, 48x72)


In some ways George has defended himself for forty years against Price’s analysis. In a 1974 article by Camilla Hunt Cole for Art in America he says, “I am not attempting to represent literally any one scene but to evoke a mood and stimulate imagination,” a comment easily applied to his entire oeuvre, from Landscapes to Cajuns, as well as later series: Blue Dogs, Hurricanes, and Bodies.
“Rodrigue’s paintings are exciting because they are innovative. They appeal to the intellect as well as to the imagination. Moreover, he has succeeded in capturing the very essence of Southwest Louisiana, its land and its people. In his paintings he reveals to us not what Acadiana looks like but what it is.” – Camilla Hunt Cole for Art in America, 1974
Following the Baton Rouge show, museum director Claude Kennard, as if rooting for the underdog, admired George’s large-scale landscapes, described just months earlier by Price as ‘overly grandiose’ and ‘the least stimulating’ of all his works. The one-man exhibition premiered at the Beaumont Art Museum, now known as the Museum of Southeast Texas, to rave reviews in August of 1971.

“George Rodrigue’s vision, abstract and severely linear in its inception, takes form first as a line-drawing, then through an obsession with major and basic forms, developing into an elemental landscape statement, austere and sober, limited in color but rich in range of hues, validly restrictive to the nature of the landscape of Lafayette parish and surrounding areas in South Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Human and architectural features emerge in terms of the dusky world of pervasive subtropical shade where white is exotic and sky minimal.” – Claude L. Kennard, Director of the Beaumont Art Museum, 1971



Later that year, Alberta Collier, art critic for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, further redeemed the young artist, whom she described as
“... a romantic who loves the countryside where he grew up; he paints the bayous, the simple Acadian cabins and the moss-hung oaks with the love of the true native. His landscapes are not executed in a style he picked up from the past, but in a manner which has something of Louisiana Art Nouveau, something of the direct conceptions of William Aiken Walker, but more of Rodrigue himself.”

For George, his crowning achievement of these early years occurred in 1974. Accepted as one of four thousand entrants in the prestigious Le Salon in Paris, he was the only American honored, receiving an honorable mention for his painting The Class of Marie Courrege (pictured above). Afterwards, the French newspaper Le Figaro described Rodrigue as “America’s Rousseau.”




(For a detailed history behind George’s experience at Le Salon, see the post, “American Artists in Paris,” featuring Rodrigue and John Singer Sargent)

Also in the early 1970s George saw his painting, Aioli Dinner, accepted for exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) during their annual juried show. He grumbles still today that his painting was the only canvas in the museum’s Great Hall not to win an award. (for a detailed history of the Aioli Dinner, pictured below, visit here)



However, I remind him that the museum, and particularly its long-running and recently retired director John Bullard, has more than made up for this oversight, with a blockbuster Rodrigue exhibition in 2008, a current state-wide tour of his paintings from their permanent collection, and NOMA’s near-reverence of the Aioli Dinner, which hangs full-time in the museum today, not as Louisiana folk art, but at the top of the grand staircase, alongside other great American landscape and genre paintings.

It was not until the early 1990s and the Blue Dog Series that museums again noticed George’s work. His gallery representation too was minimal at best. He was a figurative artist painting at a time when Abstract Expressionism was the norm in the South and elsewhere. Figurative art was non-existent on the national scene.
“My style,” George says, “was outdated and out of touch with contemporary directors that viewed their shows as a reflection of what was going on in New York.”

But I’ll save the last twenty years of history, including solo museum shows in Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, Northwest Florida, Europe (especially Germany), and throughout Louisiana for another day, even as I direct you to this link for the latest exhibition schedule.

Instead, I leave you with a few prophetic words from George Rodrigue, written in 1974:

“At this time, artists should try to produce something from themselves, or from their area – that’s where art is headed today. All America really has left in art is what one feels.”
Wendy

Although he didn’t intend it as funny at the time, George and I both laughed out loud as we read this statement that he made for a 1974 article in the Lafayette Advertiser:

“Today, anything new is accepted as art. Anything that hasn’t been done before. But after going through pop art, op art, abstracts – what’s left that’s new? Not much. That’s one reason why things have been slow in the art world for the last eight-or-so years.”

I hope you also enjoy “Southern Delicacies: Old Ladies Talking,” a story of eaves-dropping and outrageous cuisine for this week’s Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans; also "Avoiding Politics," defining events from a political agnostic-
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