There’s no doubt that if George Rodrigue were here today, he would have painted for his current exhibition at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. We talked about it some fifteen years ago as we watched the museum under construction, and again as we attended its opening exhibitions. He dreamed of showing his work in this contemporary jewel-box space, while at the same time, in typical George-fashion, forbade me from submitting a request. (“Asking a museum for a show is the kiss of death,” he often said.)
-click photos throughout to enlarge-
Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, OOMA’s reflective metal pods sprout between massive ancient oaks in an unlikely place- overlooking the beautiful white-sand beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The museum is a tribute to George Ohr (1857-1918), the self-proclaimed ‘Mad Potter of Biloxi,’ and a forerunner of contemporary art through his distinctive art pottery, on view within the permanent collection.
Two years ago, as George predicted, the museum proposed a Rodrigue exhibition. However, without him here to create and design, the challenge was immense. How do we best present Rodrigue within this ultra-contemporary, high-ceilinged, single room space? How do we surprise an audience just ninety miles from New Orleans that thinks they’ve seen it all?
In the past, most Rodrigue museum exhibitions
have been retrospectives, from Cajuns to Blue Dogs, spanning forty-five years of paintings and sculpture.
It was clear from the beginning that this type of exhibition was incongruous with not only this atypical Gehry space, but also with George Rodrigue’s lifelong artistic rebellion.
As has happened repeatedly since losing George in 2013, we found the solution within his art. Rodrigue’s Blue Dog: Discovering Late Works on Canvas and Metal features twenty-five original artworks, many from the last year of George’s life and never before on public view. Enjoy a glimpse of the exhibition in this short video for WLOX-TV Gulf Coast Weekend-
Also, a new interview, recorded live from the museum, with NPR for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, beginning at 18:19, linked here-http://www.mpbonline.org/blogs/mississippiedition/mississippi-edition-monday-july-30th/
With more than twice the museum’s previous attendance, the Rodrigue exhibition is a showstopper! Originally set to close August 15th, I’m thrilled to announce its extension, due to popular demand, through October 6, 2018.
In addition, please join me at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art for a special encore Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.
Surrounded by these extraordinary late Rodrigue paintings, I’ll share personal stories and insights from my wondrous journey with George
. A book signing follows, featuring The Other Side of the Painting
Finally, none of this would have happened without the dedicated, enthusiastic OOMA staff, lead by Director Kevin O’Brien, nor without the passion and hard work of everyone associated with Rodrigue Studios, especially our Curator of Exhibitions, Dana Holland-Beickert of Memphis, Tennessee. With tremendous thanks to all of you, on behalf of myself, everyone who experiences this exceptional and unprecedented installation, and above all, the brave, creative genius, George Rodrigue.
“If you try to paint to please a public or a critic, you’ll never create anything lasting, anything new, or anything purely your own.” -G.R.
-pictured above: George Rodrigue with The Last Puzzle Piece; Carmel, California, 2013-
-learn more and purchase the OOMA exhibition poster ($50) at the ALL-NEW George Rodrigue website! Linked here–
-for a related post, see “Remembering Old Biloxi,” linked here–
-please join me in September for these events: