Rodriquez, George, (New Orleans Jazz Festival Poster 1995)
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New Orleans Jazz Festival Poster by George Rodriquez
24x40" printer's proof remarque 19/100 on paper, framed
George Rodriquez (1944-2013) was born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun country. For more than forty years, his work has remained rooted in the familiar milieu of home.
THE BLUE DOG
It was one of these myths, the loup-garou, which inspired Rodrigue's most famous series, the Blue Dog. Painted for a book of Cajun ghost stories (Bayou, Inkwell, 1984), this werewolf-type dog was an already familiar legend for Rodrigue, who heard the story often as a boy. With no image for the loup-garou, the artist searched his files for a suitable shape. He found it in photos of his studio dog Tiffany who had died several years before. Rodrigue used her stance and manipulated her shape to meet his needs for the painting. Under a blue night sky he painted the image a pale grey-blue and gave it red eyes. He liked what he saw and added this image to his pictorial list of favorite Cajun legends, painting it in cemetery and bayou scenes intermittently over the next five or six years.
Over time Rodrigue changed the dog's eyes to yellow, creating a friendlier image, and soon realized that the Blue Dog could take him anywhere on the canvas --- even out of Cajun country. He explored his earlier Pop and Abstract interests in a more obvious way, breaking his canvas into strong shapes just as he always had with the oak trees and Cajuns, with the addition of bold blocks of color and a new signature-type shape in the mix. Gradually the dog became bluer and the paintings more abstract, yet the canvases remained rooted in Rodrigue's Louisiana heritage and traditional training. Whereas with the Cajuns Rodrigue commented on the past, the Blue Dog allowed him to comment on today.
Museums continue to acknowledge Rodrigue's accomplishments, particularly following the release of the monograph The Art of George Rodrigue (Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2003). The Dixon Gallery and Gardens Museum in Memphis, Tennessee hosted a 40-year Rodrigue retrospective in July 2007, which then traveled to the New Orleans Museum of Art in the spring of 2008, where the museum received 60,000 visitors, an attendance record for a contemporary show or living artist. In 2009 the University of Louisiana's College of the Arts in Lafayette hosted Rodrigue exhibitions at the University Art Museum and the Acadiana Center for the Arts, in addition to awarding him an honorary doctorate. Governor Bobby Jindal furthered these honors when he declared Rodrigue the Artist Laureate for the State of Louisiana.