Art

Jolie Blonde, 1974

A prisoner in Port Arthur wrote a song based on the Cajun legend “Jolie Blonde” in the 1920s. It tells the story of a pretty blonde woman who left her Cajun lover for someone else. Over the years, the song has developed into the Cajun anthem. Although Rodrigue used different models over the years, Jolie Blonde was painted completely from his imagination. He awoke in the middle of the night, haunted by this image and he painted her with a loose, fast stroke (atypical of his paintings up to this point), finishing at daybreak

 

Aoili Dinner, 1971

The Aioli Dinner was Rodrigue’s first major painting with people. He designed the painting using combinations of photographs taken of the Aioli Gourmet Dinner Club, a group that met once a month on the lawn of a different plantation home in and around New Iberia, Louisiana. Traditionally only men sat at the table, each with their own bottle of wine. The women seen standing in the back row cooked the food, and the young men around the table served dinner. One of the older men made the aioli, a garlic-mayonnaise sauce. Rodrigue’s grandfather, Jean Courrege sits on the left near the head of the table, and his uncle Emile is the third boy standing from the left, peeking his head in between the others. All of the figures are portraits of people who lived in and around New Iberia..

 

Self Portrait, 1971

George Rodrigue painted this self-portrait of himself 3 years after becoming a professional artist. Early on in his career, critics accused Rodrigue of simply being a primitive folk artist. He wanted to prove to the world that he could paint anything or anybody with as much detail as he wanted. But, painting realistically was no fun for him and it did not offer anything new to the art world. So, immediately upon completion, he went back to painting his traditional Louisiana scenes.

 

Andre and Jacques, 1986

This painting depicts George Rodrigue’s two sons, Andre, and his younger brother, Jacques. They are both part owners of Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro.

 

Kiss Me I’m Cajun, 1979

This is a portrait of André Rodrigue, the artist’s eldest son. The painting was used on the cover of the cookbook, Talk About Good, published by the Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana.

 

King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong, 1980

Rodrigue painted this famous portrait as a personal tribute to King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. Recording in Chicago in the 1920s, this legendary jazz group consisted of Honore Dutrey on trombone, Baby Dodds on drums, King Oliver on cornet, Louis Armstrong (on the floor) on second cornet, Bill Johnson on bass, Lil Hardin on piano, and Johnny Dodds on clarinet. (Lil Hardin and Louis Armstrong met in the band and eventually married). From his earliest Cajun portraits Rodrigue has adapted his paintings from photographs, altering the pieces to fit his particular style of art. Here, even though the original photo was taken in a Chicago nightclub, he places the musicians on an outside stage, backed by Louisiana oaks painted.

 

The Kingfish, Huey Long, 1982

Huey Pierce Long, Jr (1893-1935), nicknamed “The Kingfish,” was Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, and later a U.S. Senator from 1932 until his death three years later. Rodrigue paints Long making his famous campaign speech beneath the Evangeline Oak: “Just as Evangeline cried for her Gabriel, Louisiana is crying for roads and schools and bridges.” The hazy capitol in the distance is merely a campaign promise when Huey makes his speech; it is also the place where, three years after its dedication in 1932, Long would be assassinated.

 

Edwards Now, Edwin W. Edwards, 1983

Edwards’ re-election committee commissioned Rodrigue to paint this portrait of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. Rodrigue pays homage to his 1982 portrait of Governor Huey P. Long, painting Edwards in the same way. Like the Kingfish, Edwards campaigns before the Evangeline oak tree, but with a now clearly constructed capitol building in the background (as opposed to the capitol behind Long, a ghostly vision of what he promised to build).

 

Kathleen Blanco, 2003

Governor Blanco’s inaugural committee commissioned artist George Rodrigue to paint her portrait. In the painting, the sun dawns on the Louisiana landscape and the state’s capital,
symbolizing Governor Blanco’s promise of a “new Louisiana.” Formed by the roots of the Louisiana live oak, the state’s shape forms at the base of the tree. Governor Blanco stands
amidst her own roots — Acadiana. On the left, the statue of Evangeline, Louisiana’s heroine from Longfellow’s poem, lingers as a ghost of historic and strong Louisiana women. On the right, the artist’s most famous symbol, the Blue Dog, appears in its original form, as the Cajun loup-garou , a ghost dog or werewolf that, according to legend, lurks in the sugarcane fields of New Iberia, home to both George Rodrigue and Governor Blanco.

 

Bobby and Supriya Jindal, 2008

Rodrigue was commissioned by a collector to paint a portrait of Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife, Supriya. The painting features typical Rodrigue trappings such as a shadowy oak tree and the descending Spanish moss.

 

Louisiana Legends, 1990

Famous Louisianans depicted here are in the front row: Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis, U.S. Senator Russell Long, Cajun Chef Justin Wilson; and in the back row: New York Yankees Pitcher Ron Guidry, Pulitzer Prize-winning Novelist Ernest J. Gaines, Oscar-winning Film Director Gene Callahan.

 

She Told Me to Hit the Road and Never Come Back (Huey Long’s State Troopers), 1988/1991

Rodrigue thought he was finished with this painting, Huey Long’s State Troopers, in 1988 when he painted the work for Gerald Defez, whose father appears at the front of the line. At the time, the painting did not include the Blue Dog. It hung for several years in what was then Defez’s restaurant Landry’s in Henderson, Louisiana, where Rodrigue rented studio space during much of the 1980s. When the Blue Dog hit in 1991 Rodrigue finished the work and re-named it She Told Me to Hit the Road and Never Come Back. This is one of only two paintings ever in which Rodrigue added the Blue Dog to a finished work. Because his compositions are tight and fit together like puzzles, it is rare that he makes changes to his original design. In addition, the Blue Dog appears in most paintings eye-level, human size, and as the subject of the work. This painting is a rare departure for Rodrigue, probably because he created it during the early years of the Blue Dog series, when he was exploring the question for himself: “What have I created?”

 

With Rose, 1985

Unlike his first portrait of Jolie Blonde (hanging above the bar in this restaurant) which Rodrigue created entirely from his imagination, his later portraits of the Cajun beauty were all from photographs. He painted Jolie Blonde in the same way he painted Longfellow’s Evangeline, waiting for her lover beneath the famous Louisiana Live Oak. Over the years Rodrigue has painted hundreds of versions of Jolie Blonde, using dozens of models. His
version of her has become the standard ‘look’ of Jolie Blonde. It is for this reason that none of the portraits refer directly to the woman who modeled for a particular painting. Rather every version, no matter who the model, is meant to represent the same romantic muse from the Cajun waltz.