If you walk up Royal Street from Jackson Square toward Canal, you’ll pass George Rodrigue’s French Quarter gallery. He’s a self-described Cajun artist; primarily known for his Blue Dog paintings. Most of his other work reminds me of the folk art of Henri Rousseau. 

Rodrigue’s wife Wendi has a blog and she says The Aioli Dinner is probably his most famous Cajun (series) painting. It isn’t as noticeable in the print, but the painting itself “exudes the swamp, and one almost feels the mugginess, smells the sweat, and feels the mosquitoes biting.” 

The Aioli Dinner, George Rodrigue (1971)

She goes on to say the painting is based on the “old Creole Gourmet Societies, in their heyday between 1890 and 1920 when they met each month on the lawn of a different plantation home in and around New Iberia, Louisiana. The six hour meals included a lavish spread, cooked by the women standing along the back, served by the young men standing around the table, and enjoyed by the seated gentlemen, each with their own bottle of wine”. 

Rodrigue does portraits, too. He was commissioned by the Democratic National Party to do Bill Clinton and Al Gore “Walking into the 21st Century.”

Hank Williams, George Rodrigue (1989)

There’s a story about an earlier mix-up when Rodrigue and Wendy first went to meet the Clintons, he was supposed to provide “prints appropriate as official state gifts from the Clinton White House.” He created a special lithograph of his Washington Blue Dog, but Clinton cancelled the presentation because he thought Rodrigue was the instigator of Blue Dog democrats.  

Then Hillary Clinton sent Wendy a handwritten note to apologize.

Rodgrigue’s done work for the Republican Party, too. He was friends with presidential adviser Lee Atwater. He painted Reagan and then did a portrait of GHWB with his grandkids.

Later he was commissioned to do a silkscreen commemorating George W. Bush in 2001. Then he did a trio of pieces for the 2008 North American Summit in New Orleans.

He has a whole series of Louisiana governors, too, from Huey Long to Bobby Jindal and his wife.

I like the Musicians series the best. He listens to Hank Williams a lot, and Elvis. There’s Clifton Chenier,  Bobby Charles, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and Esther Bigeou: The Creole Songbird. There’s a picture of Elvis with a blue dog called You Ain’t Nothing But a Blue Dog. He also painted the Blues Brothers with a Blue Dog. Jake and Elwood are literally blue.

I could on and on about all the different stuff he’s done, but I’ll just link to Musings of an Artists Wife instead.

This Blue Dog painting was “shoplifted” from Rodrigue’s gallery on Royal Street on June 21, 2010. Two tips helped police solve the case. The paintings were recovered, each in a brown paper bag encased in a larger garbage bag, in a shed on North Broad Street. (Times-Picuyne)


NOTE: The Autumnal Equinox passed this afternoon at 2:49pm.