730 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
A glimpse of George Rodrigue’s American Dream: Celebrating 30 Years in New Orleans from Wendy Rodrigue and WVUE FOX 8 News!
As the Rodrigue family celebrates their 30th year in New Orleans, Rodrigue Studios has assembled artwork that represents all genre and periods of George Rodrigue’s body of work, including Landscapes, Cajuns, Portraits, Hurricanes, Blue Dogs, Bodies, and late works on metal and chrome. Special projects and atypical works are also highlighted within this special commemorative exhibition, celebrating the life, art and achievement of George Rodrigue’s American Dream!
***In honor of this historic exhibition, the artist’s family worked with George Rodrigue’s original master printer, Edmond de Boisblanc of Lafayette, Louisiana, to reproduce four of Rodrigue’s earliest silkscreens, now available as estate-stamped prints.
The American Dream means different things to different people. For George Rodrigue’s Acadian ancestors, who were part of the 1755 forced removal from their Canadian homeland during Le Grand Derangement, their dream was to find a new place to call home, one that provided sanctuary and an equal opportunity for happiness and success. Two hundred years later, in New Iberia, Louisiana, Rodrigue dreamed of becoming an artist. He set forth on this course in the third grade, when he discovered painting and sculpture while bedridden with polio.
Without art in his school or a museum in his town, Rodrigue saw little exposure to original artwork or the concept of ‘artist.’ Returned to good health and focused on his dream, he attended six months of Saturday morning art classes with the only artist known to his family, Mrs. Keene, followed by correspondence courses with an art instruction school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He later studied art at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and in 1965 he boarded a train for California, where he attended the Art Center of Design in Los Angeles. Following art school, Rodrigue returned home to Louisiana, determined to follow his dream —to support himself and his family with his art.
Rodrigue was motivated, optimistic and maybe a bit naïve. Fresh out of art school, he never imagined that selling his art would be his responsibility. However, with the exception of the Reilly Gallery in New Orleans, which showed his work briefly in the early 1970s, no galleries or agents wanted the young artist’s dark, repetitive landscapes.
Steadfast and determined, Rodrigue placed a small ad touting “Bayou Country Paintings” in the back of Southern Living Magazine, using his Lafayette home address. To his surprise, the response was immediate, particularly from traveling salesmen visiting southwest Louisiana. Soon Rodrigue himself hit the road, finding that the further he strayed from home, ironically, the more people that appreciated his work. From the trunk of his car, he sold paintings across America, traveling from one small town to the next, befriending restaurateurs and other business people, who shared his art with their clients.
After years of wandering, Rodrigue established a large enough following to return home. He rented a small gallery space on Pinhook Road in Lafayette and later raised his Jefferson Street home to build a gallery underneath. This is where his sons grew up, where his dog Tiffany lived, where he painted hundreds of paintings of Cajun folk life, and where most of his Cajun painting fans, unless they ran into him on the road, came to know his work.
Yet Rodrigue still dreamed of a gallery in New Orleans devoted to his work. It was in 1989 that a local doctor and his brother opened The Rodrigue Gallery of New Orleans in a small rented space at 721 Royal Street, across the street from our current location. And in 1998, Rodrigue and his wife, Wendy, acquired the business, changing the name to Rodrigue Studios. In 2009, George and Wendy bought the building at 730 Royal, a 200-year old structure adjacent to the spectacular St. Louis Cathedral. And in April 2010, after nine months of labor-intensive renovations, George Rodrigue opened a gallery of his own.