Most recent George Rodrigue work on display at state archives

Off leash

A new exhibit of works by the late George Rodrigue, some of which have never had a public showing before, is on view at the Louisiana State Archives.

“A lot of them are George’s most recent works,” says Jacob Liebert, Rodrigue Studios warehouse director. “A lot of these paintings have never been seen in a public exhibit. Some of them have hung in the Rodrigue galleries, but never in a setting like this.”

Rodrigue died last December at age 69.

The exhibit is simply titled “Blue Dog,” after the image that made the artist famous.

Rodrique painted his first Blue Dog in 1984 as an interpretation of the legendary Cajun loup-garou. The Blue Dog took on a life of its own and eventually catapulted Rodrigue to international fame.

“We wanted to have an exhibit of George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog paintings, and we’re also commemorating the Miss USA Pageant through the exhibit,” says State Archivist Florent Hardy.

Which is why the late artist’s “The Protege” takes center stage in this show.

The painting pairs the Blue Dog with a blue rendition of Donald Trump, who operates the Miss USA Pageant, which will be staged on June 8 in the Baton Rouge River Center.

The contestants will get a private showing of the exhibit.

But all visitors are welcome to see it in the Archives’ main gallery through Monday, June 30.

Politicians and noted personalities, including Trump, all wanted their paintings made with the Blue Dog.

“Donald Trump’s son auctioned the original painting of his father and the Blue Dog for charity,” Liebert says.

But this version of “The Protege” is here, surrounded by such titles as “The Everly Brothers,” featuring a red and blue dog; and “Mardi Gras 2014,” showing the Blue Dog wearing a mask and jester’s hat. The Blue Dog sits in front of silhouetted live oaks in some paintings, another of Rodrigue’s trademarks.

Fifteen pieces make up the exhibition, with memorabilia, sketches and photographs filling the gallery’s display cases in the center.

“The Blue Dog is such a beloved figure in our state, and the Archives is grateful for the generosity of the George Rodrigue Foundation for bringing this exhibit back to Baton Rouge after first displaying it in the capitol city in 2001,” says Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

“I am certain Blue Dog enthusiasts from across the state will be drawn to the Archives so they can intimately experience the unmistakable work of George Rodrigue for themselves, and we welcome their visit,” he adds.

Jacques Rodrigue, the artist’s son and executive director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, says the family is excited to display the work to Baton Rouge.

“Exhibits like this help further the arts in education initiatives of our foundation, and we hope students in the area are able to take advantage of the chance to see original Rodrigue work,” says Jacques Rodrigue.

“It will likely be many years before the Baton Rouge area will have the chance to see a collection of paintings like this again,” he adds.