Last Modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 6:28 PM
New Iberia native George Rodrigue, creator of the popular “Blue Dog” series of paintings, will be remembered for his generosity, humility and efforts to keep the arts in school.
Rodrigue passed away Saturday. He was 69.
Rodrigue’s work was last featured in the area in January 2011, when the Imperial Calcasieu Museum hosted “Blue Dogs and Cajuns,” a show featuring works from the Blue Dog series and some of Rodrigue’s earlier works that captured Cajun living.
Susan Reed, executive director of the museum, said Rodrigue was a pleasure to work with.
“Someone referred to him as an artist laureate, not just of Louisiana, but he had worldwide fame as well,” she said.
“For all of that he was still George, down to earth, extraordinarily talented, a wicked sense of humor and he was a very good friend of our museum. We had two shows of his work. With the Blue Dogs and Cajuns show, we did an event called Sidewalk Chalk with George. Scores of children came and he was down there on his hands and knees drawing that blue dog, it was beautiful.”
Rodrigue made sure the museum had what it wanted for its show.
“We had 17 works from Blue Dogs from the New Orleans Museum of Art and other pieces from private collections,” Reed said.
“As I was preparing from the show, I got a call from the George Rodrigue Foundation asking if I would like to have the 15 paintings series called “Saga of the Acadians.” I was so thrilled. When George found out I wanted to put some of Cajun pieces with the Blue Dogs, he sent pieces from his private collection which had not been seen so much.
“That is the way he was. We had posters for the show and he sat and signed them for hours. That is the kind of person he was.”
Reed said Rodrigue’s legacy will not be restricted to his collection of works.
“He had an extraordinary body of work, from 1965 until today,” she said. “He was ever-changing. Blue Dog came along, but he never forgot his Cajun roots. The important legacy will be his solid commitment to arts and education and the importance of that. He did so much to support and encourage young people in the arts to help in schools, get supplies, all sorts of things. He did it because he firmly believed in it. I think now we are going to find out so much he did that we never knew he did. He will be remembered for generosity of spirit and time.”
One of the artists he helped inspire was local artist Candice Alexander, owner of Alexander Art Studio.
“When I was 15 I saw a billboard on the interstate with the blue dog,” she said. “I always wanted a billboard after that and just got one. He found a niche and ran with it. I have done that with my work, too. He raised a lot of money through his foundation for organizations and charities. That is something I admire and have tried to follow. I think he is one of the most respected Louisiana artists.”
For more information on Rodrigue and his foundation, visit www.georgerodriguefoundation.org.