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Monday, February 28, 2011

George Rodrigue Visits Dufrocq Elementary

Thank you to everyone who came to Dufrocq Elementary in Baton Rouge, LA on February 24, 2011 with us. We had a great day painting with all of their students and teaching them about art!

We attended the school as part of our George's Art Closet program. Dufrocq Elementary was one of 30 schools across the state of Louisiana that applied to our program that gives schools a year's worth of art supplies. We are trying to fund all 30 schools this year.

The local community group Forum 35 sponsored this school's art packet and provided volunteers to help us set up our art stations with the students.

Special guests like Craig Freeman of the Baton Rouge School Board even brought his own iPad in order to play our app "You Can Count on Blue Dog" with the students! Then, our executive director, Jacques Rodrigue, read our children's book "Why is Blue Dog Blue"

When the day was over all of the kids then enjoyed special Blue Dog cupcakes.

We would especially like to thank Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden for joining us as well. He even took a short art lesson from George and painted his very own Blue Dog.

All in all, it was a great day for all of the children and volunteers! You can view more photos from our great day here:

Dufrocq Elementary George's Art Closet Event

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Executive Director Visits Ponchartrain Elementary

We would like to thank all of the students and teachers at Ponchartrain Elemenetary in Mandeville, LA for hosting our Executive Director, Jacques Rodrigue, at their recent event.

On February 18, 2011, the school had a "Cultural Arts Day" where students interacted with artists of all kinds from around the state. As part of the event, Jacques had the opportunity to play our iPad App"You Can Count on Blue Dog" with all of the students.

Plus, what really made it special, was that for the entire week students collected art supplies to donate to our "George's Art Closet" program. It was so great to see that the students were eager to help other less fortunate students from around our state.

Lastly, we would especailly like to thank their art teacher, Paula Ourso, for making this day possible for all of us!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

George Rodrigue Visits Baton Rouge School to Play Our iPad App

Thanks to Mrs. Dore's class at Trintity Episcopal School in Baton Rouge for having us. From their blog :

"We had such a fun time making all of our Blue Dog Art last week and this week.We had a wonderful visit today with Louisiana Artist George Rodrigue. He came to our classroom to show us how he draws his Blue Dog pictures and use his new "You can count on Blue Dog" IPAD app with us. It was a wonderful way to combine art and technology. Over the week we made different types of art inspired by his Artwork and we even had a Blue Dog Cafe' in our dress up center. Enjoy these photos from todays events!"

View more pictures from our day here .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Saving an Oak Tree (for Romain)

Reprinted from Musing's of an Artist's wife by Wendy Rodrigue:

“Actually, I thought about a specific old friend before a specific old tree,”

said George Rodrigue when he found out about the 250-year old Youngsville Heritage Oak, destined for destruction next month to make room for a temporary road.

George’s connection to the small Louisiana town called Youngsville, near Lafayette, was his best friend Romain Fruge, who lived there near the end of his life. Originally from Arnaudville (like all Fruges), Romain was in the military, retired as a colonel, and worked for years in the space administration.

He told us stories of meeting Martin Luther King, Jr., flying across the world on missions for the President, and exploding large balloons in space. After retirement in the early 1980s, Romain returned to the Lafayette area, eventually purchasing a house in the community of Youngsville, settled by the Acadians in the early 1800s.

Romain traveled with George and later the two of us, exaggerating our adventures with his presence. He loved women of all shapes, ages, and sizes, introducing himself as the ‘Radiator of the Universe,’ a man whose favorite sound was the swish of silk lingerie moving between a woman’s thighs, and whose favorite area on a woman’s body was “that place between the bottom of the panty and the top of the stocking, known as the garter gap.”

Together Romain and George visited Morvant’s Bar & Grill, probably the most famous place in Youngsville, a hamburger joint established more than fifty years ago. They traveled the United States and Europe opening art exhibitions, and they hit the road every few weeks in George's blue van, delivering paintings to clients. They spent nearly every day together for close to twenty years.

(pictured, Ken Bode, Romain Fruge and George Rodrigue, mid 1980s, Lafayette, Louisiana; for more on George's friend Ken Bode see the post "Fairs and Festivals")

George speaks about his old friend:

“Romain was the first person I knew who really loved oak trees.After he bought the house in a Youngsville subdivision, he complained that they cut down too many trees. In response, he bought two five-year old live oaks from some nursery in Lafayette, planting one in his front yard and one in the back. It was important, he said, for the next generation of people that would live in his house.”

(pictured, George Rodrigue photographs the Youngsville Heritage Oak, 2011)

George and Romain established their history not only through art and friendship, but also through Flora Levy, Romain’s bank teller in Lafayette for many years. She inherited late in life a large estate from her two brothers, leaving all of the money and land upon her death to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then called the University of Southwest Louisiana). During her later years she funded the Flora Levy Lecture series at USL, featuring such distinguished speakers as Walker Percy, Isaac Singer, and Bruno Bettelheim.

(pictured, portraits by George Rodrigue for the Flora Levy Lecture Series, 1980s; to see all ten portraits from this series, visit here)

As a last request before her death, Flora commissioned George to paint her portrait. The university, however, argued among its staff for years about placement, and so under bizarre circumstances it hung over Romain’s bed for more than a decade, until his death in 2002.

Today George avoids these sorts of conflicts and commissions. He painted the Youngsville Heritage Oak quickly, over about fifty hours this week, with a personal goal in mind. He’s on a mission, making prints of this painting to raise at least $250,000, with hopes that the city might move the road, cancel the road, or as a very last resort, move the tree.

(pictured, The Youngsville Heritage Oak, 2011, painting 30x40 inches; silkscreen print 26x34 inches; for a detailed development of Rodrigue’s oaks from the late 1960s to present, visit here)

“The city of Youngsville owns the tree. If this were my decision, the oak would stay exactly where it is, and the road would go around it.My goal is to stop them from making sawdust out of this magnificent monument to our Cajun heritage.

"This painting is typical of my classic oak tree style. I first started painting these trees in the late 1960s and early 1970s after returning from art school in California and realizing Louisiana’s unique culture and landscape compared to the rest of the country. I cut the shape of the oak off at the top of my canvas so that we see the sky from beneath the tree, just as one sees it while standing in the shade of the Youngsville Heritage Oak."

"The house in the painting stands today near this magnificent tree, and the horse and buggy (not as bygone as one might think) come from a photograph (above) I shot outside of a country store in the Fruge hometown of Arnaudville in 1967, when farmers in the area still used this form of transportation.” – G.R.

(Pictured above, George Rodrigue pleads with the public to help him save the Youngsville Oak)

I leave you with a short but sweet story about our friend Romain, who lived with us in Lafayette between 1997 and 1999. One evening around dinnertime he walked through the kitchen on his way out of the door, as he had every night since moving out of our house and to Youngsville a few months before. Still romantic and vain when it came to the ladies, he refused to wear his hearing aid, lest its appearance cramp his style.

“Romain,” I asked, “Do you want to stay for dinner? We’re having cannelloni.”

He looked at me sadly and replied,

“You’re right, Babe…I have been kinda lonely.”


Learn more about saving the Youngsville Heritage Oak, and purchase the print featured in this post by visiting here

For the history of Rodrigue's paintings of oak trees from the late 1960s to present visit here

Saturday, February 5, 2011

N.O. College Prep Visits Gallery to Play iPad App

Thank you to all the students of New Orleans College Prep for joining us at Rodrigue Studio New Orleans on February 4, 2011.

The students had the chance to learn all about the history of the Blue Dog and George Rodrigue. Plus, they even go to play the counting app "You Can Count on Blue Dog"available as a free download for the iPad in Apple's iTunes store.