Covering Louisiana

Jan 23, 2014 7:28 PM by Kari Beal

George Rodrigue's Studio re-opens in Lafayette

One month after his death, George Rodrigue's legacy lives on. His gallery re-opened today in Lafayette's Oil Center. Many came out to enjoy his artwork and share memories about this iconic artist. Among those at the gallery today were friends and family.

"What I want people to remember about my dad was how hard he worked and how unique he was. Nobody painted like he did in the 1960's, and he continued that uniqueness through his career", said George Rodrigue's son Jacques Rodrigue.

It's a career that not only made Rodrigue an icon in the Cajun nation, but also across the nation. President Bill Clinton even thought the Blue Dog was so unique, he used it as the official poster for his inauguration.

"This is the picture of him actually presenting the prints of the painting to President Clinton into the oval office," said Rodrigue.

George Rodrigue grew up in New Iberia, and in the back of his gallery, there is a room that strikes close to home. Sitting under glass is his first business card, his high school diploma from Catholic High in New Iberia, a Mardi Gras crown, and more.

Blue Dog brought fame for Rodrigue, but long-time friends like Dickie Hebert remember humble beginnings. When they were children, polio disease left Rodrigue bed ridden for four months. His mom gave him a paint by numbers kit and with a stroke of the brush, his career began.

"He would paint those and then paint his own version of them after that. So that was the beginning of his artistic creativity," said Hebert.

George Rodrigue started painting landscapes of Louisiana and later was inspired to paint the Blue Dog from a the Cajun legend of loup garou.

"My dad always said if he wasn't from Acadiana he never would have started painting in the first place," said Rodrigue.

Rodrigue's spirit lives on in his foundation's statewide art contest. The foundation is teaming up with the Audubon Nature Institute for this year's contest. High School juniors and seniors are eligible to participate for their chance to win scholarships. For more information click here.

For more information on George Rodrigue's gallery and store hours click here.

Want to see more stories from Kari? Follow her on Twitter @Kari_EBeal and Facebook.



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