The River is the Road: Paintings by George Rodrigue
West Baton Rouge Museum; Port Allen, Louisiana
June 17 – October 29, 2023

Opening at the West Baton Rouge Museum, June 17, 2023, this first of its kind exhibition traces 45 years of the river in Rodrigue’s paintings, exploring the unique ways Rodrigue used the river as a reference to his Cajun heritage, and ultimately as a metaphor for the journey of life.

The waterways of Louisiana were the early highways of its inhabitants.  We had no roads; we just had the water.  They were the natural fairways for commerce, development, and everything necessary for settlers to expand.

George Rodrigue

In Rodrigue’s paintings, the roads and rivers blend as one, and are one and the same.  Rejecting the spacious sky of traditional European-style paintings, he pushes a large oak to the front of his canvas, cropping the top of the tree so that the light shines in the distance and is small beneath the branches.  In hundreds of his paintings, it is a river or road that invites the viewer into Rodrigue’s imaginary world, one that feels like Louisiana, and onto a painted path that leads to a symbolic, hopeful light.

When the Blue Dog enters Rodrigue’s world, his paintings become increasingly more colorful, reflecting changes in his life and outlook.  Unlike the black bayous of his Cajun paintings, Rodrigue’s Blue Dog interpretations are surreal in both design and color.  Oftentimes the rivers are blue, red, yellow, and abstracted, blending and swirling almost indiscernibly with the land and sky.  Ultimately, paintings from the last year of Rodrigue’s life, as featured in this exhibition, ponder his life’s journey as never before, borrowing from the symbolism of his early paintings and the optimism of his later ones.  In these intensely personal expressions, Rodrigue once again invites us into his world with a river, this time contemplating not only his life’s journey and artistic legacy, but also, with hope and curiosity, the next part of his adventure.

June 17 – October 29, 2023

West Baton Rouge Museum
Port Allen, Louisiana
Sponsored by Telich Custom Homes, Morgan Stanley and Louisiana Lottery

Events: West Baton Rouge Museum
  • June 16: Opening Reception and “Historical Happy Hour”, 6-8 p.m.
  • October 29: Lecture with Wendy Rodrigue, Time TBD

February 27 – April 6, 2024

Carnegie Visual Arts Center
Decatur, Alabama

November 2, 2024 – January 21, 2025

Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center
Hendersonville, Tennessee