Electric Aura Dog (1992) by George Rodrigue

Sep 22, 2023: This unique artwork returned to Rodrigue five years after he created it and remained as part of his personal collection. Carved by his friend, master woodworker John Calder Shiell, mahogany reliefs such as this one were Rodrigue’s first attempts at creating a Blue Dog sculpture while staying true to the image as two-dimensional. In several pieces he incorporated neon and, excited with the result, planned to make more. One included a carved hot dog, and another, a full white moon. In all, Rodrigue made only five neon works.

Unfortunately, the lightweight neon alongside the heavy wood proved extremely fragile, and after multiple losses, Rodrigue abandoned the project. He had hoped to create a piece for himself; however, life got in the way, and by the time he could explore revisiting the idea, Mr. Shiell had passed away.

In 1997, Rodrigue and Wendy landed in a dispute with Rodrigue’s agent. In the process, it was discovered that on the wall of the agent’s attorney’s home hung both Electric Aura and another artwork, Eat, Drink, and Forget the Blues (also within this exhibition). Unknown to Rodrigue, his agent traded the artworks for legal services, hoping that George wouldn’t notice. As a result, the art returned home, and Rodrigue, out of the blue, had his neon.

See George Rodrigue’s Electric Aura (1992) on view at the Museum of New Art (MONA) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire , through January 2, 2024, followed by the Bayou Teche Museum in Rodrigue’s hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, in honor of his 80th birthday, March 13, 2024. Filmed by Douglas Magnus at MONA Portsmouth, September 2023.