Our Views: Rodrigue’s art made us smile

Color comes easily to south Louisiana in December. The red and green festival of Christmas makes it so.

But the real test of a vibrant culture is the color it brings to daily life throughout the year.

George Rodrigue, the New Iberia native who died recently at age 69 after a battle with cancer, helped brighten Louisiana and the world through all the seasons.

His iconic Blue Dog paintings tickled our retinas and teased the line between myth and reality. Blue Dog was inspired by the Cajun legend of the wolf dog, or loup-garou, but he was a cheerfully domesticated little mutt who made us smile, like a werewolf by way of Snoopy.

Blue Dog, the terror of the swamp tamed as a pet, naturally made us wonder what else in our everyday landscape might hum with the memory of the wild. Rodrigue painted politicians and hung his work in big-city galleries, but his paintings never lost their sense of origin in the natural world.

To know his pictures was, in a very real sense, to know the landscape of Louisiana.

We’re glad to have those pictures, which will extend Rodrigue’s legacy long beyond his death. And we welcome the color they will bring to our homes and offices and galleries, even after this month’s lights and tinsel and ribbon have been packed away for another year.