Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Remembering George Rodrigue

It’s three years ago today, December 14, 2013, that we lost George Rodrigue.  I embrace, as I do every day, his beautiful light, shining now as bright as ever, through the legacy of art and philanthropy left to us by this beloved husband, father, and friend.

George is an example to others through his kindness and generosity, and through his unrelenting pursuit of his dreams.  He left a lasting gift to the world through his tangible expressions in paint, print, sculpture, and words of his luminous and unprecedented ideas.

"Great works of art take on a life of their own, long after the artist is gone." -George Rodrigue

-a photograph taken by Wendy, December 2012, and filtered blue by George ----titled within his files, “Blue Christmas”-

-sharing George's paintings and stories at the New Orleans Museum of Art, December 2016-

With blessings to you and yours during the holidays and always.  

And, direct from George, as he made me promise to write within every copy of The Other Side of the Painting:

"Enjoy Life!"


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Rodrigue Jewelry

George first created jewelry in the 1970s, hand-forming designs in clay from his images of Oak Trees and Jolie Blonde, which he reinterpreted as solid gold pendants.  Later he made for himself one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras coins featuring elements from his paintings, also in gold, and embellished with precious stones.

In the 1980s George met Douglas Magnus, a renowned Silversmith in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The two formed a lasting friendship that included their mutual respect as artisans.  Over the years they worked together on numerous projects, including a line of “Blue Dog Jewelry,” released in a small quantity in the early 2000s.  In addition, Magnus created many one-of-a-kind Rodrigue pieces, designed by George as gifts for me.

-click photos throughout to enlarge-

In 2016 I approached Douglas Magnus to reintroduce the jewelry line using George's original designs.  Unavailable for more than a decade, these special pieces are updated by Magnus, based on his experiences in working for many years with his good friend. 

“Working with George on these designs and concepts was like a hand in the glove.  George knew what he wanted, and I was able to create that vision.  I think both of us were always very pleased with the outcome.  I feel that the updated collection achieves a higher standard of completion and quality, with attention to detail, in the spirit of George and his art.”

(pictured:  Cowboy Blue Dog 2013, an original photo-collage by George Rodrigue, featuring Douglas Magnus and his turquoise mines near Santa Fe, New Mexico; learn more here-)

Unlike the earlier pins and pendants, the reworked designs include an emphasis on George's distinctive signature as an artistic element within each piece.  

These works of art are hand-crafted with the highest quality using sterling silver and, in some cases, 14k gold auras, per George's original instructions.  The backside of each piece is as beautiful as the front, again with an emphasis on “Rodrigue."

In addition, this new collection, available only through Rodrigue Studio, includes several items that George designed in collaboration with Magnus, exclusively for me, including a sterling silver Blue Dog Series bracelet from 2013.  

In all cases, the jewelry is handcrafted, piece-by-piece, by Magnus Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where George Rodrigue worked with Douglas Magnus for nearly thirty years.  


I considered for quite sometime whether or not to reintroduce the jewelry.  George and I visited Santa Fe many times, not only because we love the area and its people, but also because George enjoyed a unique camaraderie and artistic-exchange among his friends here.

(pictured:  Artists Douglas Magnus, Armond Lara, and George Rodrigue photographed in Santa Fe, New Mexico by Dana Waldon, 2008)

Today, because I live between Santa Fe and New Orleans, I have the opportunity to watch Douglas at work and channel those memories.  Many afternoons I visit his shop as he works on "Rodrigue," and as he honors, with meticulous care and craftsmanship, a great American artist.

Sharing the jewelry again feels right.  As I've said many times, I am not the artist, and yet this process feels like working with George and moving forward with his designs....... in a way that he would want.  Furthermore, within the galleries, it's particularly poignant to have something 'new' from George.  

About Douglas Magnus:

Douglas Magnus (b. 1946) moved to Santa Fe in the late 1960s, following his childhood in Los Angeles, California and Silverton, Colorado, and a formative two years with the U.S. Army in El Paso. 

A photographer and videographer, Magnus expanded his oeuvre while in New Mexico to include painting, sculpture, and jewelry, an art form he honed while apprenticing with local Indians in Gallup, New Mexico. Soon after he acquired the famed Cerrillos Turquoise Mines, the same land originally mined by Native Americans some 1000 years ago, and later by Tiffany & Company in the early 1900s.

Today Magnus lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico, conceiving original designs and finished products from turquoise, silver, gold, and other materials. He is also a prolific painter, embracing numerous subjects such as interiors and figurative works, while partial to plein air paintings created on site at his mines.

Above all, Magnus embraces quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship, remaining true to his unique, evolving vision and his commitment to beautiful, handcrafted works of art.  


-pictured above:  Douglas Magnus, Wendy Rodrigue, André Rodrigue at the Tiffany Mine in Cerrillos, New Mexico, 2015.

-Rodrigue Jewelry is handcrafted and very limited; at this time, prices range between $475 and $4750;  for availability, contact Rodrigue Studio at this link-

-for more by Douglas Magnus visit

-jewelry photography by Studio Seven Productions, Albuquerque, New Mexico-

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Begneaud Collection

Since losing George in 2013, we (myself, his sons, and our staff), have made educating the public about his life and work a priority. In the galleries, we've focused on exhibitions that span his 45-year career, including the current installations, Rodrigue:  Blue Dog for President in New Orleans and  Rodrigue in Carmel:  Galerie Blue Dog Celebrates 25 Years in Carmel, California.

These unique exhibitions borrow original works from Rodrigue's archives, as well as from private collectors.  Rodrigue Studio's Curator of Exhibitions, Dana Holland-Beickert of Memphis, Tennessee, expertly chooses and installs the artwork based on her extensive museum background, including her work on the George Rodrigue Retrospectives at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis (2007) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (2008).  

Both shows broke records at those museums for exhibitions by a contemporary or living artist, in large part due to Holland-Beickert's curatorial skills, including her impressive and thorough research on Rodrigue and her proficient analysis of his art.

Pictured:  The New Orleans Museum of Art, 2008; click photo to enlarge-

Dana and I have worked together on numerous Rodrigue projects over the past decade, within museums and Rodrigue Studios.  This includes our collaboration on wall texts, extended labels, and other related materials.  Lately, this has been so extensive as to take my time from my usual blog essays.  So, lest I leave you hanging any longer, please enjoy below an excerpt from our newest exhibition, opening this week in Lafayette, featuring twenty-five exceptional and rarely-seen paintings by George Rodrigue.

Throughout, I've sprinkled painting selections from the exhibition and linked to related essays (as indicated by any highlighted words or phrases).


George Rodrigue (1944-2013) was born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana, and lived in Lafayette for thirty-five years. His family descended from the original Cajun settlers after four Rodrigue brothers walked from Nova Scotia to southwest Louisiana during Le Grand Dérangement of 1755.

Following his art studies at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Rodrigue attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he recognized from afar the unique and fading Cajun culture. Upon his return to Acadiana in 1967, he committed himself to preserving his beloved heritage, landscape, and mythology on his canvas. 

Although his mother insisted on describing their family as “pure French,” Rodrigue embraced proudly, from the beginning, the description “Cajun Artist.”  

Pictured:  Cajuns Love Boudin, 1980 by George Rodrigue, 40x30 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Donald Begneaud.

Now residing in Lafayette, Rodrigue was determined to make a living as an artist. However, he never imagined that selling his art would be his responsibility. At that time there were no galleries in Lafayette, and with the exception of the Reilly Gallery in New Orleans, there was not a gallery anywhere that would display his old-world, Renaissance-style Louisiana landscapes — repetitive interpretations of dark oaks and small skies. 

After months of seeking representation, Rodrigue accepted that he was on his own. He placed a small advertisement announcing “Bayou Country Paintings” in the back of Southern Living Magazine and Acadiana Profile, using his Lafayette home phone number and address--- located on Duclos Street.

Pictured:  John Courrege's Pirogue, 1973 by George Rodrigue, 36x42 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Kenny Begneaud;  Learn more about this painting here-

Rodrigue’s paintings and efforts attracted the attention of his childhood friend Dickie Hebert, also from New Iberia. Dickie and George reconnected in 1970 when Dickie moved back to Lafayette from Texas to work as a pharmacist. By this time, Rodrigue had opened a small gallery on Pinhook Road, where he painted daily and felt fortunate to receive one or two visitors per week. 

Early on, Dickie Hebert purchased a small landscape for $150.00. Excited about his acquisition, he showed the painting to his new employer, Roland Begneaud of Begneaud's Pharmacy.  Roland immediately recognized the talent and potential in this unknown painter, and he requested an introduction, which Dickie arranged.

Pictured:  Begneaud's Pharmacy (Portrait of Arista J. Begneaud, Roland's father), 1983 by George Rodrigue, 30x40 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of David Begneaud.

It was the beginning of a friendship, a respect between artist and collector, and ultimately an extraordinary private collection of Rodrigue paintings.

Roland Begneaud was an intelligent and shrewd businessman who saw the potential in investing in George’s work. The two friends became fast business associates, working out purchase agreements, oftentimes hand-written on the backs of the pharmacy’s prescription pads, to help Rodrigue finance the improvements on his single-story Victorian-style home on Jefferson Street. Rodrigue famously (and expensively) raised the house, building an additional floor underneath as his gallery.

Pictured:  Prescription pad, Begneaud's Pharmacy, 1973.

Ultimately, Roland Begneaud amassed one of the best collections of Rodrigue’s early Cajun paintings, particularly after he added people and scenes to his landscapes.

Pictured:  Boudreaux in a Barrel, 1972 by George Rodrigue, 36x24 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Louise Begneaud Ganucheau. Learn more about this painting here-

Based on 1920s-1930s area photographs from his mother’s album, these paintings reflect Rodrigue’s interpretation, what he called “a naïve surrealism,” of a fading era. He described his paintings as timeless ….Do they depict 1820 or 1920? And he lamented that few local people appreciated the way he portrayed them, “as primitive, living beneath the trees.” 

Pictured:  Felix and Annabelle, 1974 by George Rodrigue, 26x38 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Louise Begneaud Ganucheau.

With the exception of Roland Begneaud and a handful of other friends, the majority of Rodrigue’s collectors, whether Cajun or Blue Dog canvases, lived outside of Louisiana.  And throughout his life, Rodrigue remained grateful to Roland Begneaud for appreciating and nurturing his vision. 

Pictured:  Daughters of Andre Chastant, 1971 by George Rodrigue, 28x36 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of David Begneaud.  Learn more about this painting here-

In 1976, both Rodrigue and Begneaud celebrated their success when the book The Cajuns of George Rodrigue (Oxmoor House), featuring eleven works from the Begneaud Collection, was chosen by The National Endowment for the Arts and Rosalynn Carter as an Official White House Gift of State during the Carter administration.

Pictured:  Doc Moses, Cajun Traiteur, 1974 by George Rodrigue, 48x36 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Donald Begneaud.  Learn more about this painting here

Today the more than thirty Rodrigue canvases acquired by Roland Begneaud are still treasured by his five children, Doug, Kenny, Louise, Donald and David, and their children. The Rodrigue family honors George Rodrigue and Roland Begneaud in bringing together, with gratitude to the Begneaud Family of Lafayette, Louisiana, an unprecedented exhibition of these outstanding paintings by one of America’s most important artists.

Pictured:  Cajun Bride of Oak Alley, 1974 by George Rodrigue, 24x32 inches, oil on canvas. Collection of Douglas Begneaud. Learn more about this painting here

Please join me at Rodrigue Studio, Lafayette, for the opening reception for this special collection of early Rodrigue Cajun paintings, as we celebrate George Rodrigue and the Begneaud Family.  Thursday, October 27, 2016; 5-7 p.m. Details linked here.

Hope to see you-

-In addition, please join me this Friday, October 28th, 2016 at the Alexandria Museum of Art, when I'll be reading from The Other Side of the Painting (UL Press) and sharing original Rodrigue paintings from mine and George's private collection.  2:00 p.m. FREE. Details linked here-

-And this Saturday, October 29th, 2016 join me in Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival.  I'm on a panel with Dr. Chris Cenac for his impressive new tome, Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, which features beautiful reproductions of a dozen Rodrigue paintings. 
     Afterwards, I'll read from The Other Side of the Painting and share original George Rodrigue paintings from our collection.  2:00 p.m. FREE. Details linked here

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Friday, August 5, 2016

George Rodrigue: "Fun for Me"

As Rodrigue Studio celebrates its 25th year in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, I’ve reluctantly stared memories hard in the face, piecing together, without George, a history that’s all about George.  As is the case throughout his life, a central aspect of the story exists within his artwork.

“It’s got to be fun for me, or I don’t do it,” said George often about painting. 

It wasn’t the painting itself, however, but rather the act of painting and the solving of the puzzle that he found "fun."  I can see him in my head explaining this, holding an imaginary brush and palette.  “I love the feeling of applying the paint to the canvas,” he would say.  

Yet it was clear that George himself, even when he joked or laughed about a painting, never saw “fun” as important to his finished artwork.   He enjoyed making people happy, and it pleased him when others found joy in his art.  Yet he constantly stressed, “My paintings work because they’re painted in a very serious manner.”  

The Blue Dog is not Snoopy; it's not a character. George winced at the word ‘whimsical’ and was more likely to embrace descriptions like mysterious, mythical, regional, naive, surreal, and abstract.

-click photo to enlarge-

(Pictured:  paintings by George Rodrigue from my collection, as I prepare to pack them for shipment to Carmel’s Rodrigue Studio Silver Anniversary Exhibition, opening August 13th, 2016-)

I've always taken George's artwork seriously, in some ways now more than ever, as I search for the man himself within his paintings.  For this exhibition, I part with my paintings for six months, because I know that ultimately they have a life of their own ---certainly beyond me, and possibly even beyond George. And they need to be seen.

In recognition of Galerie Blue Dog Carmel’s outstanding first year, George presented me with Immaculate Dog, a painting I admired since he completed it in early 1992.  I appreciated George’s daring alteration of Ingres’s The Virgin of the Host (1852), where he replaces the religious ‘host’ with the Blue Dog, further linking his staring creation to the mystery of life, as even the Madonna gazes upon it.  (The following year we visited the original Ingres painting at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.)

-click photo to enlarge-

Prior to the invention of electricity, religious art was often framed for Catholic churches using gold leaf.  The surrounding candlelight illuminated the gold, which illuminated the painting.  I sought to replicate this in my rented Guadalupe Street Carmel cottage, where I hung Immaculate Dog with reverence above the fireplace, flanked by a family heirloom ---- Renaissance-style candelabras.

It so happened that Galerie Blue Dog’s neighbor on 6th Avenue, artist Loran Speck (1943-2011), was not only a gifted painter, but also a craftsman who hand-carved and gilded frames in the traditional style.  A gentle and meticulous man, it took Loran two months to complete the beautiful wooden and genuine gold leaf frame for Immaculate Dog….. and it took me one year to pay for it.

Once I began traveling with George, friends and family often used my cottage while I was away.  Nearly every time, the thank-you note included a mention of an evening before the fire, discussing Immaculate Dog.  It was my most prized possession and the showpiece of my Carmel home.

“Because you’re one Hot Dog!” laughed George in 1994 as he hung this canvas, his first painting of me, just inside the front door of Galerie Blue Dog, Carmel.

Unlike our wedding portrait (below) the dog looks straight out, while I look up --- so that my gaze links the three elements in a surreal composition that, like most Rodrigue paintings, defies explanation.

Even though George gave me the painting, he insisted that it remain on view in the gallery.  Some people laughed, and some were confused.  But I never found it funny, and I was mesmerized by George’s interpretation of me.  Today it’s my favorite of his paintings.  It hangs in my bedroom and is the first and last thing I see each day.  No matter how much I study it, the meaning, like the meaning of life ...and loss... eludes me.

In 1995 George painted a second version of Hot Dog Halo, but seven feet square and without the hot dog, calling it Chanel #5.  The canvas went on to hang in numerous installations, including The Time is Always Now Gallery in New York City, and the store windows of Bergdorf Goodman in New York and Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Houston, and Honolulu.

In 1997 George surprised me with the painting Wendy and Me as our wedding portrait and the cover of our invitation.  He approached the painting and his idea with a structure and purpose that reflects multiple meanings.  What may seem funny on the outside reveals deep and universal themes, such as the mystery of life, the inevitability of death  ….and, certainly in the case of this painting, love.

Throughout his career, George connected with the Modern Cezanne, the Surreal Dali, and the Regional Thomas Hart Benton, as opposed to the Contemporary Multitudes.  Although most often linked to Pop Art by others, he was influenced by numerous movements (even though he rarely admitted it publicly), ultimately creating his own direction. 

In 2011, reflecting on his failure to find gallery representation for his Cajun paintings, he said, “My style was outdated and out of touch with contemporary directors that viewed their shows as a reflection of what was going on in New York.”  Read more. 

It wasn’t until his last few years that George found a kinship, once again in his own way, with the Contemporary art movement.  It might be said that he formulated his own Minimalism, where scale, materials, and technology compete with the subject for importance.   

-click photo to enlarge-

George the person was as enigmatic as his paintings ---confident, serious, and complex----  while at the same time humble, laughing, and down to earth.  He didn’t question his decisions, in art or in life, because they came from within the big picture of his role in art history, and the even bigger picture, a legacy and lesson to all who knew him, of following his heart.


-Pictured above:  George Rodrigue at his easel in Carmel, California, 2012-

-Please join me, along with George’s sons André and Jacques, for Rodrigue Studio Carmel’s Silver Anniversary Weekend of Events, August 13th and 14th in Carmel, California.  Details here-

-Don't miss BAYOU, a series of 40 paintings by George Rodrigue painted between 1981-1984, on view (opening 8/6/16) for the first time ever as a collection.  By appointment at the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, 747 Magazine Street, New Orleans.  Details here

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Shidoni: A Friendly Greeting

I returned recently, for the first time in five years, to Shidoni, a place where George worked regularly over three decades.  

Located in the lush Tesuque Valley, an oasis in the desert near Santa Fe, New Mexico, the foundry was George’s choice for some thirty years for transforming his clay sculptures into bronzes ---whether three-dimensional interpretations based on Longfellow’s poem, A Tale of Acadie, two-dimensional wall mountings of Blue Dogs in various patinas, or a late uncompleted project of a fuller, smoother, abstracted dog, meant for chrome, two sides, a pole, and a stand.

As I write this, a raven calls “Shidoni” from the apple tree above me. 

I approached Shidoni with an original Rodrigue piece that spans, within one work, those same thirty years.  It begins with a clay relief modeled by George circa 1980 onto the backside of his mother’s china plate.  Originally intended as a bronze relief, George abandoned the project until I discovered it somewhere---I don’t remember where---early in our marriage.  I proclaimed it “a favorite,” running my young fingertips over his young fingerprints, clearly visible in the greenish clay.

He gave me the plate, and I placed it on a table-top easel within our living room, where it remained, a cherished and personal expression, for sixteen years.

After losing him, I consulted George’s longtime artist-friend, Douglas Magnus of Santa Fe, for help in reproducing this clay oak tree design as jewelry for a family gift.

“George sent me this!” he exclaimed. 

And indeed, even while he was ill, George had sent Doug photographs of the piece, intending jewelry as a surprise for me.

Pictured:  Pendant, prototype photographed on a page of The Cajuns of George Rodrigue (1976, Oxmoor House); click photo to enlarge-

I’m told by locals that the ravens are the smartest of birds, perhaps the smartest of animals.  I see them in the Turquoise Hills; I see them in the morning when I walk in my slippers upon my new High Heel Highway, a desert necessity for this southern girly-girl….

…One time a raven greeted me alongside my car, George’s car, when it landed on the edge of a near-by parked pick-up as I sat, windows down, at a traffic light.  The giant bird and I stared at each other, maybe three feet between us, and the cars backed up behind me without my realizing it, and without anyone honking.  Like me, they were amazed by the fearless glossy bird and perhaps they too saw him as a sign in “The Land of Enchantment” and “The City Different.”

Pictured:  Clay murals with ravens by Priscilla Hoback, as they look today on the wall of our home in New Orleans; purchased by George as a gift for me in Galisteo, New Mexico in 1998; click photo to enlarge-

It’s strange ----emotional….right…and oh-so-wrong---- that I should explore and in some cases complete George’s projects without him.  No one understands better than me that I am not the artist.  And yet I find myself caught between, well, forgive the pun, letting sleeping dogs lie, versus tackling unfinished projects defined in my head by George’s animated soliloquies, as he outlined his plans on cocktail napkins over quiet dinners, or on our frequent cross-country drives, when we eventually abandoned music in favor of such sharing or, more often, the silent road.

Pictured:  with Scott Hicks at Shidoni Foundry; May 2016

Last week I brought George’s plate to Shidoni Foundry, where it now is destined for several versions:  the bronze he intended in 1980; the chrome he loved in 2013; and the giant scale he embraced in his sculptures of the 2000s.  (I don’t know what George ultimately would have completed, so I’m following through with all of them.)

Since moving to New Mexico, I’ve learned that I’m Bilagáana.  I’ve become familiar with the Navajo people, the Diné, through my friend and great-niece Katrina, who traded “the rez” for love and Hollywood.  Her beautiful spirit remains with her, however, as she and her bright smile hold steadfastly natural and optimistic within an oftentimes false and cynical outside world.

Pictured:  Katrina with a horny toad at Turquoise Hill in the Cerrillos District of New Mexico-

I never heard Katrina say the word “Shidoni,” a Navajo friendly greeting, according to the internet.  Rather, she greets me, without fail, with her beautiful smile and a warm hug.  I’ll need to double-check with her, I guess, that the google translation of her language is accurate, as I would not want to offend these ancient and spiritual people with my presumptions.  But then again, what harm ever came from a genuine “friendly greeting.”

More to come.  Shidoni.


-for a related post and photographs, see “George Rodrigue:  The Bronzes”-

-pictured above:  with Katrina Kavanaugh on Easter Sunday, 2016-

-stay tuned for more on George Rodrigue’s Shidoni Foundry projects in the coming months-

-please join me this weekend, June 3rd and 4th 2016, at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts for a series of events honoring George Rodrigue.  Free and open to the public.  Learn more-

-don’t miss “Rodrigue:  Spirit of the Game” now on view in New Orleans, featuring 20 original paintings by George Rodrigue spanning thirty years.  Learn more-
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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Blue Dog Hog

George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog Hog premiered in 1994 in a New York City gallery called The Time is Always Now.  This unique three-dimensional artwork dazzled at the center of the warehouse-type space, with George’s paintings, some as large as fifteen feet across, surrounding the bike.

-click photos throughout to enlarge-

The exhibition coincided with the release of the book Blue Dog (1994, Viking Penguin), George’s first U.S. publication on the Blue Dog Series, and his first major book since The Cajuns of George Rodrigue (1976, Oxmoor House).

Excited about the book, the space, and the big city, George painted and created specifically for the show.  Every piece was large-scale to take advantage of the colossal interior.  The Blue Dog Hog, intended by George as the exhibition’s showstopper, sat on a riser in the center of the room. 

I remember George lifting his petite publishing agent, Roz Cole, onto the riser during the star-studded and slammed opening night party, accessed by tracking blue paw prints for blocks throughout SOHO. 

At age sixty-six, Roz, a lifelong New Yorker and former MGM recording star, donned the hand-painted helmet over her bouffant-style wig, threw her bare legs and black stilettos over the seat of the Harley, and posed for half the night with a glass of red wine in one hand while waving her other hand in the air, as though she rode a mechanical bull.  

(I also recall her light blue VW bug parked out front, and how we all marveled that she actually drove to the exhibition and found a parking space).

“This is terrific!” shouted Roz from atop the bike.  Not one of the hundreds of folks in attendance, including actor Matt Dillon and artist/photographer Peter Beard, left the party without taking her picture.

Following the NYC exhibition, the bike returned, in 1995, to Louisiana.  …..but not to Butte la Rose, where George had painted it in the swamp at his camp on the Atchafalaya River, but rather to the New Orleans French Quarter, where it caused no end of frustration for our sales staff.  Every passerby fancied a photo-op on the Blue Dog Hog, similar to the Chicago cows of the late 1990s and the Rodrigue Steinway of 2012.

To this day, few people realize the vastness of George’s interests within his art.  The spectacular bike surprised the public.  Too often he’s dismissed as “the guy who paints the Blue Dog,” as though he lacks variety within his work.  The truth is, however, that his career cannot be divided neatly into 25 years of Cajuns and 25 years of Blue Dogs.  Rather, it’s 50 years of creative development ---on his canvas, in his personal interests, and within his community.  Just as he remained loyal to his childhood friends and his home state, he also remained true to his subjects.  He didn’t abandon one style for another; instead he kept adding.

This is the heart of the revolving exhibitions (since February 2014) currently within George’s galleries, focusing on themes such as Graveyards, Music, Sports, Politics, and Mardi Gras.  In each case, the paintings, borrowed from private collections, span decades, pulled from both the Cajun and Blue Dog Series, and yet tied together by George’s lifelong interests.

Similarly, the Blue Dog Hog incorporates all three Rodrigue identifiers.  The Oak Trees, prominent within his paintings and sculptures since the late 1960s, stretch like Oak Alley's promenade along the back fender.  The Blue and Red Dogs, prevalent since the early 1990s, echo each other throughout the composition.  The equally distinctive rolling red “Rodrigue" signatures are a strong design element within George’s Cajun posters of the 1970s and 80s, as well as within many of his Blue Dog silkscreens.

“I was never the best draftsman in art school,” George often recalled.  “But I always had the best ideas.”

Transforming these ideas into tangible works of art proved challenging.  In the case of the Hog, for example, George dissembled the bike before painting it, piecing his design together like a puzzle before rebuilding the motorcycle.  

The red dog and signatures clearly relate to the bike’s rear brake light, reinforcing George’s focus on design and concept.

Just as important is the emphasis on the bike’s chrome details, an obsession for George since the 1950s, and an element increasingly important within his work, especially within late series such as Swamp Dogs, Hollywood Stars, and a brilliant collection of mixed medias on shiny metal.

….proving once again that George enjoyed the challenge of growing creatively within the repetition of his favorite ideas.

“I know there’s going to be a Blue Dog in it,” he often said, referencing a blank canvas (or in this case, a motorcycle), “but beyond that, I haven't figured it out."  

"And that’s where the challenge lies.  That’s what keeps it fun for me.”


*photographs courtesy New Orleans Auction Galleries-

-More on Rodrigue and motorcycles here-

-Please join me, along with George’s sons André and Jacques, for the opening reception of “Rodrigue:  Spirit of the Game,” a new exhibition at Rodrigue Studio New Orleans spanning forty years of paintings, ranging in theme from boxing to bourré.  Thursday, May 19, 2016 from 6-8 p.m.  Details here-

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