The Blue Dog Is Not A Dog

Today we were split into four sub-groups: the Arts, Bio-Science, Tech, and Sustainability. I joined the “Arts” group as we ventured off on foot to four artists’ studios.

Our first stop was the studio of George Rodrigue, the artist well known for his Blue Dog. I had no idea I was about to meet the artist who I’d admired for quite some time. I walk in and see blue dogs, in every shape and form, all over this space that resembles a creative office instead of an artist’s place. There are no blue paint splatters on the floor, no easels in sight. From the back walks in a dapper man in his late 60s, nicely dressed in a starched dress shirt and sport coat – not exactly what you’d expect from an artist. It’s George Rodrigue. THE Blue Dog George Rodrigue.

He’s so affable, so nice to the crowd, so hospitable. He seems totally unaffected by his fame.

He explains that his “DOG” was never a dog, but a loup-garou, a human who change into a wolf, or a ‘boogie man.’ His Louisiana heritage shines through his artwork.

Then he moves to his real passion: His foundation. He tells our group about being a youngster and contracting polio. He was in bed, unable to walk, for an entire year. It was during this time that art began to develop as a direction for his life.

He and his family are committed to sharing their success with their community. His foundation distributes art supplies to the classrooms to help foster art as an integral part of education.

This commitment to community is a constant theme down here in New Orleans. It seems to be the thread running through everyone with whom we speak.

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We walk a few steps further down Julia Street to Steve Martin’s studio. Phew, I LOVED this man’s artwork, particularly his wire works. Steve was a successful stock broker here in New Orleans for 20-something years. After Katrina hit he decided to slow down and become an artist. His curiosity for art started when he worked for his father on construction sites, bending rebar in the foundation of buildings.

Because I must head out to breakfast, I don’t have time to upload photos of his work. Please take a minute to visit his website.

From there we visited Canary Collective’s studio and Mallory Page’s galleries. Each of these four artists spoke about the advantages of living in such a creative community, one that supports and values the arts. All four had found success here in New Orleans, all loved the culture and climate in their community.

I find a close-knit bond between those I meet in this city. Everyone seems quite genuinely interested in each other.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  off to another busy day in the Big Easy. First stop, duMonde (I hope that means beignets)!

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