Following twenty years in a private collection, this week two special paintings by George Rodrigue hang for the first time ever in New Orleans. See Lacoste Lineup (1991) and Spooked by Bourré (1993) on view for a limited time at Rodrigue Studio in the French Quarter. The story behind these paintings is one of the most fascinating in George’s painting development. Also on view is Rodrigue’s Dressed to Kill (1992), an early sculpture.
Lacoste Lineup (1991)
By George Rodrigue
Oil on canvas
In the summer of 1991, George Rodrigue rented a commercial space in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Downtown rental property was at a premium and rarely available, and Rodrigue required City Council approval to convert the former dentist’s office into an art gallery.
The narrow, deep space seemed at first awkward for Galerie Blue Dog, and it relied primarily on artificial light. Its only window stretched 82 inches across, facing 6th Avenue, one block behind the main drag of Ocean Avenue. Attracting attention would be difficult — especially that of art enthusiasts who might merely glimpse Rodrigue’s gallery from the corner as they walked to the well-known Ocean Avenue.
Rodrigue stretched two canvases the exact width of the window, allowing space for a small display underneath. Facing inside, he painted a moonscape, with two dogs staring across the long gallery, from above.
Facing outside, he painted Lacoste Lineup, his first artwork created in California since his student projects at the Art Center College of Design in 1960s Los Angeles. With its five Blue Dogs, Oak Trees, Swirling Suns, and Alligator, the painting announced a Cajun’s return to the West Coast, and the fulfillment of a dream he sought since Art School.
Today, Rodrigue Studio Carmel occupies a brightly lit location on busy Dolores Street near the corner of Ocean Avenue. Rodrigue continued to paint for the gallery and its windows, but with more flexibility in the larger space. By 2000, he owned a home in nearby Carmel Valley and painted most of his artwork, whether for Carmel or New Orleans, in his studio there, preferring the quiet inspiration of the Santa Lucia Mountains to the hectic pace of his otherwise public life.
For more photographs and a detailed history of this spectacular painting visit http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2016/01/the-alligators-return.html
Spooked by Bourré (1993)
By George Rodrigue
Oil on canvas
In 1986 seventeen hatchlings became the first white alligators ever recorded, when they were found by chance in the Louisiana swamps. The Louisiana Land and Exploration Company discovered the 9-inch babies in their nest, rescuing them before predators took notice of the glowing animals.
Now full-grown and on view at several habitats across the United States, including the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, the alligators are not albinos, but rather have a rare genetic condition called leucism. Their piercing blue eyes contribute to their exotic appearance and mystique.
Rodrigue, like many, was fascinated by this remarkable discovery and viewed the alligators often, eventually painting Spooked by Bourré in 1991 — his only painting ever of a white alligator. He called the alligator in his painting Bourré after one of the young white alligators named after the popular Cajun card game and now living in a south Florida zoo.
Rodrigue painted this mysteriously-colored alligator and its Florida palm tree alongside his own mysteriously-colored Blue Dog and his Louisiana live oak.
(Sadly, Spots, one of the original hatchlings who lived at the Audubon Aquarium since 1990, and a brother to Bourré, passed away at the age of 28 in September, 2015).
For more photographs and a detailed history of this unique and wonderful painting visit http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2016/01/the-alligators-return.html
Dressed to Kill (1992)
Sculpture by George Rodrigue
Oil on mahogany
Almost since he first painted it in 1984, George Rodrigue explored the concept of a sculptural Blue Dog. However, the nature of the dog is two-dimensional and without a backside. It is a static image, without movement or volume. The more he worked with the shape, the tighter the dog became. Throughout, its mystery revealed itself through its painted surroundings, its saucer-like unnatural eyes, and subtle changes in color.
Dressed to Kill is among Rodrigue’s earliest Blue Dog sculptures and is one of only a handful created in wood. Rodrigue commissioned master woodworker John Shiell to carve the dog and its stand in mahogany from Rodrigue’s original designs. He then painted the wood —-one of his last pieces created in oil paint before his health required a permanent switch to acrylic.
By the early 1990s, Rodrigue began thinking of the Blue Dog less as the loup-garou or Tiffany and more as an entity on its own. It could be male or female, oftentimes suggesting the artist himself.
This early sculpture was eventually replaced by large-scale three-dimensional works on chrome, such as the revolving artwork in Rodrigue Studio’s Royal Street window, and the ones located permanently on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie, Louisiana, and in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Read and see more about Rodrigue’s background in creating the Blue Dog as a sculpture- http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2009/09/blue-dog-in-three-dimensions.html