When it comes to painting, George Rodrigue is a loner. In recent months, he embraces full time the isolated setting of his Carmel Valley studio. The limited interruptions and lack of social commitments on this quiet California hill settle the artist into a near-obsessed dedication to his canvas and ideas. Ironically, however, it’s Louisiana that remains, always, on his mind.
(pictured, George Rodrigue at his easel this week, Carmel, California; click photo to enlarge-)
Although partial to solitude in California, in Louisiana Rodrigue enjoys collaborative and unusual projects. This includes the Blue Dog Café and Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro, both restaurant partnerships with Lafayette attorney Steve Santillo; large scale public sculptures for the New Orleans Museum of Art and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, constructed with Begneaud Manufacturing of Lafayette; and even Jolie Blonde Beer, a joint project with Pearl Brewing Company and Kerry Boutte of Mulate’s Cajun Restaurant.
(pictured, The Rodrigue Steinway and The Dukes of Dixieland at the Old U.S. Mint, New Orleans; click photo to enlarge-)
Perhaps his most exciting collaboration, however, is the Rodrigue Steinway, the result of partnerships with the LSU School of Music, Hall Piano Company in New Orleans, and Steinway & Sons. Rodrigue spent three months in 2012 painting the piano, “swirling music around the sides,” says the artist.
Piano-involved events assist LSU’s goal to become an official Steinway School. Funds also support the education programs of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA), as well as other non-profits. On June 21st, 2013, Rodrigue and the piano join musicians Irvin Mayfield and Ellis Marsalis at the historic and newly renovated Joy Theater for a special event benefiting the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
-click photo to enlarge-
Rodrigue also enjoys collaborations with area museums. For example, this summer the Ogden Museum of Southern Art joins the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) July 8-12 for “Art of the Family Table,” one of seven 2013 GRFA Art Camps, this one focused on the history of Cajun food, as illustrated by Rodrigue’s iconic Aioli Dinner, now on view at the Ogden.
-click photo to enlarge; camp details here-
(pictured, Aioli Dinner, 1971 by George Rodrigue; more on this painting here-)
Other collaborations include small-production cameo glass bowls and vases with Pilgrim Glass of West Virginia, unique jewelry designs with Douglas Magnus in Santa Fe, and wine labels for Amuse Bouche and Pret a Boire, Napa Valley.
(pictured, George surprised me recently with a one-of-a-kind belt, a collaboration with Douglas Magnus of Santa Fe, New Mexico; click photo to enlarge-)
For the public, however, the most significant collaboration is the new George Rodrigue website. GRFA Executive Director Jacques Rodrigue and our website designer/manager Heather Parker worked with Design the Planet, creating an exciting and accessible on-line world of Rodrigue history and art.
Launched this week, the site was a year in the making and includes not only the latest technology, but also an extensive timeline spanning Rodrigue’s career in photographs and links from 1944 to 2013; the latest on Rodrigue exhibitions, lectures, and other news; and most important, the highest quality digital images of available artwork.
Presenting the new and improved….
-pictured above, the opening page of the new George Rodrigue website, featuring Sit in Your Own Chair, Rodrigue’s newest silkscreen print, now available through Rodrigue Studio-
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