Located in the vicinity of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum will host the exhibition The Art of George Rodrigue: Shiny Happy Blue Dog, highlighting George Rodrigue’s painted artworks on metal.
The installation of twenty original artworks marks the first-ever George Rodrigue exhibition in Oklahoma.
At age nine, George Rodrigue was diagnosed with polio, leaving him bedridden for six months. To cure his boredom, his mother, Marie Courrege Rodrigue, provided him with a new 1950s invention, the paint-by-number set. As almost by instinct, he turned the pre-printed panels over, and drew and painted his own creations, including cars, alligators and monsters, setting into motion his interest in a career in art.
Although extremely ill himself, it was his recollection of other terrified children that remained with Rodrigue throughout his life:
My most vivid childhood memory is of rows of kids in iron lungs in hospital wards. I was lucky to fully recover from polio, but I still have that image in my mind. I want children in today’s hospitals to remember something happy. – George Rodrigue
To overcome children’s fears in hospitals, George Rodrigue embarked on a series of Blue Dogs on mirrored paper and metal surfaces, purposely created in a way that allowed the silver to show through. Between 2008 and 2013, he painted numerous mixed media works on chrome, including Blue Dog heads and full bodies. His favorites, however, were the large-scale works (80” x 56”), created by combining four shiny chrome boards. According to the artist, the idea behind the design was for young patients to see their own reflection alongside the dog, or in some cases within its shape, taking away something positive from an otherwise traumatic experience. These over-sized pieces are especially suited for children’s hospitals and are installed currently at hospitals in Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana. Because of the mirrored quality of these pieces, the art changes according to the light, the objects in the room, and the person standing before them, and take on a highly contemporary look.
The works within this exhibition are drawn exclusively from the Rodrigue Archives and the artist’s private collection. Also included are selections from his Swamp Dogs and Hollywood Stars series, which combine Rodrigue’s love of reflective metal surfaces with painting, photography, and modern technology.
Throughout his career Rodrigue aligned himself with Surrealism, Pop, and Abstract Art – associations that are increasingly obvious in these later works. From his earliest Oak Trees to these late works on chrome, Rodrigue’s art was his own form of ‘contemporary,’ reflecting a romantic connection with his cultural heritage intertwined with his individual experience, his artistic sensibility, and his unique world-view.
Finally, while it may be challenging without the luxury of a career-retrospective to fully understand Rodrigue’s development from Cajun landscapes to this body of work, it would be out of the question for anyone to view these vibrant, compelling artworks and not come away with a sense of nostalgia and wonderment — and a description of Shiny Happy Blue Dog.
Wendy Rodrigue, George Rodrigue’s widow, will visit the following Oklahoma A+ Schools and bring original George Rodrigue paintings on November 15th and 16th as part of her Life and Legacy Tour:
Northwoods Elementary in Sand Springs, Grissom Elementary in Tulsa, and Freedom Elementary in Sapulpa. For information, contact Sandy Kent at 405-974-3787 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Rodrigue will be at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum for a Gallery Talk, Reception, and Book Signing on November 17th at 5:00 p.m. Free and open to the public.
In-person interviews with Wendy Rodrigue, Bethany France, and Sandy Kent will be available on November 15, 16, and 17.
Oklahoma A+ Schools has a wonderful relationship with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Louisiana A+ Schools. We are so very thrilled to have coming to Sand Springs where not only our local A+ Schools will be able to enjoy it, but also the community at large. Having Wendy Rodrigue visit several of our local A+ Schools and share her late husband’s paintings will be a delight for the students and teachers as well.
-Sandy Kent, Executive Director, Oklahoma A+ Schools
“Through LAA+ and our close partnership with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, we are changing the lives of school children and teachers all across the state through arts integration. Louisiana A+ Schools is part of a national network of A+ Schools and Oklahoma A+ is one of the states we work with. We are so lucky to have Wendy Rodrigue personally invested in the work of LAA+ and now, by expanding her Life and Legacy Tour to include Oklahoma, she is not only keeping George’s legacy alive, but also introducing him for the first time to thousands of young children each year.”
-Bethany France, Executive Director, Louisiana A+ Schools
Sand Springs Cultural & Historical Museum
9 E 3rd Street
Sand Springs, OK
Tuesday – Friday: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 11 am – 3 pm
Sunday – Monday: Closed
Admission is free
The Art of George Rodrigue: Shiny Happy Blue Dog is in partnership with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts on behalf of Louisiana A+ Schools and Oklahoma A+ Schools, and made possible through the generosity of the following sponsors:
Jane E. Phillips
American Heritage Bank
The City of Sand Springs Spirit Grant
Mobley-Groesbeck Funeral Service
T. Casey Loper of Edward Jones Realty
Oklahoma Alliance for Animals
Sim-Isaac Construction Services, Inc.
The Starfish Foundation