'Blue Dog' is star of Amarillo, Texas, art exhibition

The art icon “Blue Dog” travels to Texas in paintings for an exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art.
BY ELAINE WARNER Published: September 30, 2012
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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.

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