It was five years ago tonight that George looked at me for the last time. His eyes were bright and beautiful and child-like in their curiosity and faith. For a long time, I struggled to remember anything but those last twenty-four hours. I couldn’t get past that look, and especially my own fear that the faith he placed in me was misplaced, and that I made bad decisions that caused him pain.
Five years. It’s nothing, really. It’s yesterday.
At some point, finally, the stronger memories became the life we shared. Beyond the actual experiences, I remembered the small, repeated things that I counted on, and that I miss the most —his laughter, his conversation, the way he shook the ice cubes in his soda, the circular motion of his fingers scratching his head, the way he sheeshed and mmmed, and yes, the way he looked at me, and kissed me, the way his hand held the paintbrush, and then held me, just so, and the way he said my wife (George addressed me by my name only twice — the day we married, and the day he died), and the way he reminded me and lectured me, always while pointing in my face: When are you going to realize who you are?
George trusted me to care for his legacy and, I believe, to expand his vision.
As of last month, through the George Rodrigue Life & Legacy Tour, I’ve now shared his story and paintings with sixty-three schools, plus museums, universities, and community groups — in Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and throughout Louisiana. The tour continues in 2019, expanding into Texas and California, with additional events in Florida and Louisiana.
Just like every person is special, every venue is special, and I’m beyond grateful for the tremendous response, and especially for the opportunity to see first hand how George Rodrigue inspires. His life and art are a testament to how one person can overcome obstacles to not only achieve their dreams, but also make a positive difference in the world. George understood the transformative potential of art. He didn’t believe in excuses, or even in trying. He believed in doing.
Five years. It’s everything, really. It’s now.
The photograph above was taken in 2010 at The Dufrocq School in Baton Rouge.
Today, Dufrocq is a shining example of Louisiana A+ Schools
– teaching all subjects through the visual and performing arts.
Last month they honored the person who brought art and inspiration to their school. They renamed their library The George Rodrigue Media Center
I can’t say that this recent Dufrocq School experience was my favorite, simply because to rate this wide collection of students and teachers and venues and communities would be impossible.
Every one of the sixty-three school experiences
has been transformative, inspirational, and memorable.
However, the dedication of The George Rodrigue Media Center is a joyous and lasting tribute
to a joyous and lasting spirit
, and somehow these feel like the right photos to share today, on the eve of five years.
Thank you to the students, teachers, administrators, and everyone associated with The Dufrocq School, as well as the East Baton Rouge School Board, Louisiana A+ Schools, and the Baton Rouge community.
-photographs by Douglas Magnus; click to enlarge-
Five years. It’s no mystery, really. It’s love
See you on the road in 2019-