Tee Teddie by George Rodrigue

Oct 6, 2023: Begun in 1995 and completed in 2013, Tee Teddie first hung in Cafe Tee George, Rodrigue’s Lafayette, Louisiana restaurant that burned in 1997.  It was the only painting to escape the flames without major damage, while interpretations of Elvis, the Blue Dog, and Cajun folklife remain lost forever.

I painted Tee Teddie to accompany Elvis and his Hound Dog on opposite walls of the restaurant’s bandstand. Cafe Tee George’s theme was early memorabilia, including cowboy comic book covers, old time metal signs, and personal items, such as my barber chair and 25-year crawfish collection. All was lost or severely damaged except Tee Teddie, which sustained only smoke damage, darkening its colors.

George Rodrigue

As a child, Rodrigue was known as “Baby George” or “Tee George” because his father was George, Sr.  By high school, however, his friends called him “Big Rod,” and he lost the ‘tee’ reference until his restaurant opened in 1995, some thirty years later.  Tee Teddie combines these ideas with Elvis Presley’s “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear,” in the form of a huge painted Blue Dog-like bear, and Rodrigue’s endearing childhood reference to small.

Although it sustained little damage in the fire, Tee Teddie seemed unfinished to Rodrigue for years, more a symbol of a lost idea, something that escaped the flames but not his psyche.

I thought of the painting for some reason recently and decided after all this time to restore it like it was.  Once I started, I realized how good it is, and I kept working, repainting it completely in my colors and style of today.

George Rodrigue, 2013

George Rodrigue (1944-2013) passed away just months after completing Tee Teddie as we see it today. Learn more.

Filmed by Douglas Magnus within George Rodrigue: Painting for Myself at the Museum of New Art in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Exhibition continues through January 2, 2024 and then moves to the Bayou Teche Museum in George Rodrigue’s hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, in celebration of the artist’s 80th birthday, March 13, 2024.