By Tara Bennett
A collection of works by the late artist George Rodrigue is currently on display at the Louisiana State Archives from now until June 30.
The exhibit focuses on Rodrigue’s iconic Blue Dog painting, and features work never shown before to the public. The artist passed away last December at the age of 69.
The purpose of the exhibit is two-fold: to honor the late artist, and also to commemorate the Miss USA pageant, taking place on June 8 in Baton Rouge, through the exhibit.
“When we heard the Miss USA competition was coming to town, it seemed a natural fit to have the exhibit at the archives,” said Secretary of State Tom Schedler. “We’re glad to host them here with a little entertainment and to see the exhibit.”
In attendance to the event was the current reigning Miss USA, Erin Brady; Miss Alaska, Kendall Bautista; Miss Arkansas, Helen Wisner; Miss Connecticut, Desiree Perez; Miss Delaware, Kelsey Miller; Miss Louisiana, Brittany Guidry and Miss Virginia, Arielle Rosmarino. The exhibit is one of several welcoming events held for the contestants leading up to the Miss USA competition on Sunday, June 8.
“If it’s not Connecticut again this year, maybe the winning state will begin with an L,” said Schedler.
Fifteen pieces make up the exhibit, featuring artwork, sketches, photographs and memorabilia from Rodrigue’s life. Also on display was the “Blue Dog Piano,” a one-of-a-kind restored Steinway piano, which Rodrigue once used as his canvas.
“It’s great for exhibits like this for people to see original work,” said Jacques Rodrigue, the artist’s son and the executive director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. “We were thrilled when the secretary state’s office asked us to be involved and help welcome them and to put the show together with our 100-year-old Steinway Blue Dog piano and some great pieces from our private collection to show off here that really explain dad’s history as an artist and to show how important Louisiana was to him.”
As Rodrigue greeted the contestants, he touched upon the history of the Blue Dog, which was first painted in 1984. The painting was originally an interpretation of the Cajun legend loup-garou, which catapulted Rodrigue into international fame. People from all over the globe wanted to be painted with the blue dog, including Donald Trump, which can be seen in the artwork entitled “The Protégé.”
The present contestants at the exhibit enjoyed being able to see and learn about the history of one of Louisiana’s icons.
“This is amazing,” said Miller. “Seeing this artwork and seeing the impact it has and its popularity amongst Louisiana is really inspiring to me because people are so attached to it.”
“For me it’s a symbol of Louisiana just as the artist wanted it to be,” said Guidry. “I think it has a beautiful meaning behind it, and it really represents our state. And in every picture he painted, it has the blue dog in it, but it also has another feel of Louisiana to it.”