AMARILLO, Texas — He's iconic. He's blue with alert ears and glowing, yellow eyes and he frequently can be found in Louisiana. And now he's in Amarillo, Texas. It's George Rodrigue's “Blue Dog” on exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art through October 14.
Visitors are flocking to see the many incarnations of the popular pup — paintings, posters, and three-dimensional representations. The exhibition, “Rodrigue: Blue Dogs in Texas,” features 110 works ranging from the first Blue Dog painting to one of the artist's latest works, “Take Me Back to Texas,” created specifically for this exhibition.
George Rodrigue, 68, was born and raised in Louisiana and began painting as a child. After studying at the Art Center College in Pasadena, Calif., he returned to Louisiana. Interpreting the region through his art, he explored Cajun themes in many of his works.
Rodrigue's most familiar image, Blue Dog, was created in 1984 as an illustration for a book of Cajun ghost stories — in particular, one about the “loup-garou,” a werewolf who roamed the Louisiana swamps and feasted on naughty children.
Rodrigue used pictures of Tiffany, a well-loved pet who had “passed,” as they say in the South, as the model for the werewolf. He loved the loup-garou image so much that he continued to paint it — varying the settings — sometimes as the main subject of a painting, and, other times, as an element in a larger image.
Over time, Blue Dog took on a less eerie appearance — his eyes changing from devil red to yellow. By 1996, Blue Dog was on the cover of a Neiman-Marcus catalog. Since then, he's appeared in presidential portraits and in prints which raised more than $2.5 million for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
The exhibition is free at the Amarillo Museum of Art, located at 2200 South Van Buren on the Washington Street Campus of Amarillo College. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Other arts attractions
Other arty activities in Amarillo include the exhibition “America's Horse in Art” (through Nov. 10) at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum. This combination show and sale features the works of more than 30 artists. Permanent exhibits showcase the versatility of the quarter horse, the history of the breed, and animals and owners who have made significant contributions to the development and promotion of the quarter horse.
Perhaps no name is more associated with Amarillo art than Stanley Marsh 3 (he thinks III is too pretentious) — and no other name is more controversial. His ideas about art are either cutting edge or over the edge, depending on who you ask. One of the things for which he is responsible is the “Cadillac Ranch” on the west side of Amarillo, visible on the south side of Interstate 40. Public art, in the truest sense of the word, the 10 upended cars are fair (and legal) game for anyone feeling the yen to make their mark. The cars have been spray-painted for years and all “artists” are asked to do is to take away their empty spray cans.
Amarillo is approximately 250 miles west of Oklahoma City on I-40.
For more information on Amarillo events and attractions, go to www.visitamarillotx.com.