"It's much closer to home," says Rodrigue. "The Blue Dog was actually born in New Orleans." The city is also the home of Rodrigue's gallery and studio for the past 16 years and birthplace of his wife, Wendy. "The Big Easy remains the 'big city' to my Cajun hometown of New Iberia," he explains in his artist's statement.
Rodrigue was in Houston for the opening of a show when Hurricane Katrina hit. With a truckful of art and no gallery and studio to return to, he headed to Lafayette and found gallery space at 2021 Pinhook Road. The new local gallery is housing about 25-30 original works and prints, with more in a warehouse on Industrial Parkway. The silkscreen relief prints are available from the gallery, open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and also at www.georgerodrigue.com. Each print is $500, and proceeds go to the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the Red Cross. With the sale of the prints, Rodrigue hopes to raise $500 million in one year.
The Lafayette gallery will remain open indefinitely while Rodrigue retrieves his works from New Orleans. "I don't want to lose anything," he says, remembering the feeling of loss after CafÃ© Tee George burned down, taking many original works with it. "At least it will be safe here."