George Rodrigue’s newest paintings, his most important collection in years coming out of New Orleans, are huge, most 4×6 feet or larger. Normally he paints in his studio in Carmel Valley, California, with long days at his easel and, aside from the occasional houseguest, few interruptions.
This year for the first time in more than a decade, we’re in New Orleans for the summer, foregoing our usual road trips and the central California cool weather in favor of a statewide Louisiana museum tour organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art (currently at the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge).
For George, this has made for less than ideal painting conditions, as our time in New Orleans is fragmented between lectures, foundation events, social obligations and more, as we follow through on our commitment to promote these exhibitions with personal appearances.
(pictured, Four for Mardi Gras, 2011, 42×78)
Surprisingly, we’ve never toured Louisiana in one concentrated, artsy trek. In the past, George might show once every few years in a Louisiana museum, with interim exhibitions outside of the state.
I’m reminded of an exchange years ago at the Blue Dog Café when, upon hearing that we were on a thirty-city book tour, a woman asked, “All over Louisiana?”
George and I laughed about her comment for years, not realizing we would attempt that very thing, with museums rather than bookstores, and seven locations, rather than thirty, but an ambitious tour nonetheless.
Be sure and click these photos to enlarge the images-
(pictured, At the Head of the Red River, 2011, 48×72)
As a result, George paints in spurts, his least favorite way of working. It’s for this reason that I’m surprised at the magnificent paintings coming out of his studio. It turns out that, despite the interruptions, Louisiana inspires George more than ever.
(pictured, Gator Aid, 2011, 48×60)
This tour, its events, and its visitors; the creative and eager children associated with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts; and especially the large walls of his new gallery space obviously affect George as he thinks creatively.
A number of the new paintings are related directly to the exhibitions, such as “Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River,” pictured above, on view currently at the LSU Museum of Art, and detailed in its own post here.
Most recently, however, George is thinking about Shreveport (Sept. 23 – Dec. 30), the last stop on the tour. He has a long history with this northern Louisiana city (which I’ll detail in a blog post in a few weeks), and the idea of the red river sits well with an artist who focuses on color and strong design, even as he paints Louisiana, its rivers and roads blending as one, and its oak trees strong, repeated shapes since his earliest landscapes.
(pictured, Blue Dogs on the Red River, 2011, 40×60)
George Rodrigue’s newest painting, Four Oaks for Four Dogs, finished just this week, combines his Oak Trees, Hurricanes and Blue Dogs, all in a swirling, abstract mass, reflective, he says, of his mood after months on the road enjoying the landscape, the people, and the oddly comforting heat of the state we love.
(pictured, Four Oaks for Four Dogs, 2011, 48×72)
See George Rodrigue’s latest original paintings, sprinkled throughout this post, at his gallery in New Orleans.
If you can’t make it to the gallery, perhaps we’ll see you in Baton Rouge or Shreveport, or even on the Florida Gulf Coast where we present a series of lectures, school visits, and an exhibition late September with the Mattie Kelly Arts Center and Foundation (more details posting soon), or next summer in ….big announcement… the Texas Panhandle, for an exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art.
I hope you enjoy “The Art of Self-indulgence,” my latest post for Gambit: a few thoughts on being married to a high profile artist and on blogging in the first person–
For daily updates from George Rodrigue’s tour and easel, my blog and more, please join me on twitter–