Museum News (Rodrigue on the Walls)

Updated with additional exhibitions, August 1, 2012-

If you were lucky enough to see the Rodrigue retrospective exhibitions in 2007 in Memphis and 2008 in New Orleans, then you know the power of such shows.  For those who sought the Blue Dog, the Cajuns and Portraits piqued their interest, as they learned of Rodrigue’s twenty-five year pre-Blue Dog career for the first time.  And for those who came for Rodrigue’s earliest years and darkest landscapes, the bright Blue Dog canvases held, to their surprise, the same rich quality. 
Time and again I overheard people comment, “not what I expected,” some skeptical as they entered, but collectively awed as they left. -click photo to enlarge-
(Watch a virtual room-by-room tour from the New Orleans Museum of Art of their 2008 blockbuster:  “Rodrigue’s Louisiana:  Cajuns, Blue Dogs and Beyond Katrina” at this link.  The exhibition originated in 2007 as “Blue Dog:  The Art of George Rodrigue” at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.) 
In the near future we combine Rodrigue’s paintings, both from his archives and borrowed from collectors, in new large-scale exhibitions in Texas and California at the Amarillo Museum of Art (opening August 2012) and the National Steinbeck Center (opening October 2013).
In addition to borrowed paintings, Rodrigue works at his easel inspired by these shows.  His latest canvas, for example, anticipates our upcoming visit to one of his favorite states.
(pictured, Take Me Back to Texas, 2012, 72×48 inches, acrylic on canvas)
In Louisiana, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) recently completed an eighteen-month statewide tour of their Rodrigue collection in exhibitions ultimately spanning 40-90 works each at museums in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Monroe, Shreveport, Slidell and Lake Charles (see the links under “Rodrigue in Louisiana” to the right of this post for highlights from those exhibitions). 
This tour was so successful that it spawned unplanned stops, occurring now.  The Hammond Regional Arts Center hosts Blue Dog paintings from NOMA’s collection through April 28, 2012, and the West Baton Rouge Museum hosts Rodrigue’s Saga of the Acadians through June 24, 2012.

The Museum at Texas A&M University opens George Rodrigue: Paintings from the New Orleans Museum of Art, September 1st thru November 3rd, 2012 (details here).  And the Louisiana State Library in Baton Rouge exhibits this fall Rodrigue’s Flora Levy Series, portraits of ten scholars, including Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners, painted during the 1980s for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (details and images here). 

-click photo to enlarge
(pictured, Rodrigue’s Saga of the Acadians, as the series looked at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles last year; read the history of these historical paintings here;  Rodrigue returns to Lake Charles for an exhibition of his drawings and prints, Fall 2012.)
Finally, in addition to solo exhibitions, Rodrigue’s paintings hang in numerous American museums and often within group shows.  Two of his paintings tour with the Absolut Art Collection in Europe, soon settling permanently in Sweden at the new Historical Museum of Wine and Spirits.  
Here in Louisiana, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art unveils May 10th, 2012 George Rodrigue’s most important Cajun painting, the Aioli Dinner (1971).  At the opening reception* the artist shares the story of this gourmet dinner club, his first painting with people, which remains on view long-term at the Ogden, third floor.
(-click photo to enlarge; read the history of the Aioli Dinner here;  photo credit, Judy Cooper)
Also in New Orleans, the National World War II Museum exhibits within its permanent collection Rodrigue’s Victory on Bayou St. John, a large scale (12 feet) historical painting of General Eisenhower and boat builder Andrew Higgins, commissioned in 2008 by the museum.
(-click photo to enlarge; read the story behind this important painting here-)
At the New Orleans Museum of Art, while their Rodrigue paintings remain on tour, his Blue Dog statue stands permanently among the massive oaks and other fine works of art in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden adjacent to the museum.
(Read more about the “Blue Dog in Three Dimensions” here;  photo credit, Karen Moyes)
Finally, George Rodrigue’s museum participation is not limited to his own paintings.  Recently, for example, he sponsored through the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts a video production of “Hard Truths:  The Art of Thornton Dial,”* featuring interviews and reactions from O. Perry Walker High School students within the NOMA exhibition.  I leave you with this inspiring video, reminding us of the power of the Arts and the importance of supporting them within our community.
-Meet George Rodrigue as he unveils his Aioli Dinner at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, May 10th, 2012, 5:00 p.m.  Tickets $10, or free with a museum membership. For info call (504) 539-9612 or visit

-Don’t miss “Hard Truths:  The Art of Thornton Dial,” on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art through May 20th, 2012

-Also this week, I hope you enjoy “Art in Biloxi,” my latest story for Gambit Weekly, linked here

2 thoughts on “Museum News (Rodrigue on the Walls)

  1. Seeing George's retrospective was amazing to so many people. Even knowing his work as well as I do, I was still awed seeing the progression of his work come together in one space. Blockbuster shows like that are so important to the growth of a museum, and the cultural awareness of a community. I look forward to seeing the Aioli Dinner hanging at the Ogden!

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