In case you haven’t seen this gem in the Etsy store yet, we picked up a pretty special piece of art a few weeks back and I wanted to talk a bit more about it, since there might be some folks who aren’t familiar with the Blue Dog movement in art or who artist George Rodrigue is. I’m referring to this Vintage Special Edition Blue Dog and Black Cat Friendship framed art print in our Etsy store:
You see, artist George Rodrigue was a Louisina-based artist who started out mostly creating works that revolved around swamp-scapes and Deep South landscapes.
Then, the birth of the now-famous Blue Dog character took place around 1980 when an investment group from Baton Rouge, LA approached George Rodrigue for help in creating a special Louisiana souvenir to be sold at the 1984 New Orleans’ World’s Fair. They asked him to illustrate a book of Louisiana ghost stories, resulting in the publication of Bayou in 1984. The story that inspired the first Blue Dog painting was a tale that revolves around a ghost dog that guards a home.
According to Rodrigue’s wife, he decided this was a perfect opportunity to create a painting of one of his favorite childhood Cajun legends, the loup-garou (loosely translated from French “werewolf”). The loup-garou is a half man – half dog creature that prowls the swamps of Acadiana frightening children who don’t mind their mothers.
So, combining the idea in his head of the tales of the two different ghost-dogs, Rodrigue created this painting, called Watchdog.
Apparently, the choice for the shape of the dog came from the many photos of his beloved terrier Tiffany who often kept him company on long nights working in the studio. The blue color choice was simply the notion that the ghost dog’s fur would take on a blue hue in the moonlight under the trees, and bright eyes to add more of a haunting quality.
It took 4 years and an exposition of his paintings in L.A. for folks to start talking about the incredible “Blue Dogs” amongst his various landscapes and portraits. Then there was the 1990 Superbowl in New Orleans when the artist was seen actively working in his gallery window, drawing crowds and journalists and TV crews. He began experimenting with taking the blue dog out of the bayou and painting him without landscapes, in comical scenarios and dressed up in different looks. He was having fun with his new character, and the world started having fun witih him.:
“But one man had been watching all along. He followed George and waved down his van, and that’s how George met Michel Roux of Absolut Vodka. Roux commissioned him on the spot to create a painting, Absolut Louisiana, which would appear full page in USA Today in late 1992. They would sell four hundred posters, all for charity.” – Rodrigue’s wife.
From that time, even after the artist’s death in 2013, the Blue Dog paintings took the world by storm, from advertising campaigns to charity auctions. The advent of the xerox and screen printing just made the Blue Dogs more accessible, but didn’t lessen their value!
Heathertique’ Blue Dog
One very lucky non-profit group, the Humane Society of Broward County, received the philanthropy of Rodrigue for their animal shelter in South Florida. He created a limited edition piece titled “Friendship” that includes two subjects – The Blue Dog and his companion The Black Cat, both with matching starry yellow eyes.
You may not know this about me, but I lived in New Orleans for a few years. I fell in love with the art of George Rodrigue during that time, so when I came across two of these prints after moving to Florida, I knew I had to to have them. They bridge the time of my life from New Orleans to Florida. The first one ended up being a gift to a dear friend of mine, and it will be even harder to let this one go, too! That’s the nature of the business I’m in, though, so I have to get used to falling in love with particular treasures and then watching them go to a good home.
Here’s a closer look at the content of the print, but to see the actual framed print we are selling, head over to our Etsy store!