George Rodrigue: Untitled
Location: Hall of Mirrors
Underwriting Cost: $50,000
Artist George Rodrigue remembers being hospitalized with polio as a child. When he was nine years old, Rodrigue was diagnosed with polio,which left him bed-ridden and unable to walk for three months. His mother gave him a paint-by-number set to help pass the time.
“George had never painted before, but he knew what to do right away,” wrote Rodrigue’s wife Wendy. “He turned the numbered canvas over and painted on the backside. He painted fire trucks and alligators and guns and monsters and all of the things that he loved and found interesting as a young kid in New Iberia, La., and he made up his mind that he would be an artist.”
George and Wendy visited Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in September 2009. During an art therapy session, George drew blue dogs for children, who colored and painted them to give each a personalized look. Wendy read from “Why is Blue Dog Blue?” and “Are you Blue Dog’s Friend?”
One of the New Orleans artist’s iconic Blue Dogs hangs in the new Le Bonheur. The 56- by 80-inch silkscreen ink and acrylic paint on chrome board is displayed in the Hall of Mirrors on the first floor of the hospital. The Hall of Mirrors is a collection of mirrored windows, which delight children with their colorful reflections.
“What intrigued me most about the piece was the ability for a child to see his or her reflection in the image of the Blue Dog,” said Art Development Committee Chair Linda Hill. “The Blue Dog is such a recognizable iconic figure that I thought it would thrill viewers to be able to see their reflection in it.”
The Rodrigues felt a special connection to Le Bonheur, a hospital founded in the 1950s when the No. 1 cause of hospitalization was polio.
“[Children’s hospitals] emit a vibration, a feeling of panic, of desperation, of love, of an absolutely clear sense of priorities, of focus, of every raw emotion possible from staff and families and patients. It’s a sad and yet beautiful place, and George and I, without children of our own (his boys are grown now), feel an attachment to these children’s hospitals. We see how his work excites and inspires children,” Wendy said.
Rodrigue’s work is also displayed in Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin. He says he remembers being terrified seeing rows of children in iron lungs.
Rodrigue was born and raised in New Iberia, La., heart of Cajun Country. His works represent the symbols of this land and its people. The Blue Dog, Rodrigue’s most famous series, was created for a series of Cajun ghosts stories. The dog was Rodrigue’s interpretation of the loup garou, a werewolf-like dog. With no known loup garou image available, Rodrigue modeled the blue dog after his pet Tiffany, who died several years earlier. Over the years, the Blue Dog evolved into a friendly image that is now in brighter, colorful settings outside of Cajun country.
If you would like to inquire about underwriting this or any of the other pieces in the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Art Collection, please call the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Foundation at 901-287-6308.