President Ronald Reagan by George Rodrigue

Jun 29, 2023 LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: The surprising story behind George Rodrigue’s 1986 historic portrait of President Ronald Reagan, filmed with Wendy Rodrigue at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Lots of intrigue with this one surrounding the painting’s design, multiple unveilings with Rodrigue and President Reagan, and a Moscow Summit exhibition that resulted in three days of worldwide A.P. News headlines such as “Soviets Lasso Artwork.”

Filmed in one take, please forgive a few bloopers:

  • It’s an olive branch, of course, not a fig leaf! (Michelangelo’s David’s controversy on my mind. haha)
  • Slides ARE photographs.
  • Governor Jindal, not President Jindal!
  • George Rodrigue’s major retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art was 2008, not 2007

In addition, I neglected to mention that Rodrigue’s major historic painting, Indians, Cajuns, and Cowboys (1988), was influenced in design by this Reagan painting, wherein George spreads the branches of the oak tree like eagle’s wings across the American southwest. The 8-foot painting is the cornerstone of the exhibition, “The River is the Road: Paintings by George Rodrigue,” on view through October 2023 at the West Baton Rouge Museum, followed by a 2-year traveling tour to the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Alabama, the Masur Museum in Monroe, Louisiana, the Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and the Alexandria Museum of Art in Alexandria, Louisiana.

This film came about in preparation for an upcoming Rodrigue exhibition and Wendy’s related lecture at President Reagan’s alma mater, Eureka College, and was made possible by the accommodating folks at the Lod Cook Alumni Center at LSU. Thank you also to Polly Johnson, President/CEO of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. Filmed by Douglas Magnus.