When I first saw George Rodrigue’s blue dog paintings, I thought they were brilliant pieces of pop art. He had turned a static, repeatable image into his signature, and the presence of that signature image on a multitude of backgrounds made the pieces. How brilliantly Warholian, to foreground the signature instead of the image behind it. Then I discovered that Rodrigue didn’t see the blue dog in these terms at all. He sees his paintings as something more narrative involving a loup garou spirit, and my interest drastically waned.
So imagine my surprise at loving the blue dog sculpture on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie on the neutral grounds between Whole Foods and Lakeside Mall. It is three concave blue dog images – though in different colors – seamed together at the edges. There’s nothing complicated about the piece, but the sculpture is constructed so that you almost always see the dog silhouette; you rarely get a partial view. More interestingly, though, is the way Rodrigue has created a live action version of his paintings. As you drive by it, the image remains static and implacable while the background changes. Look at it from one angle and the dog is sitting in front of the Macy’s parking garage; from another angle, it’s in front of the Shell station on the corner. From another angle, it’s in the foreground with Veterans’ box store sprawl spread out behind it. I suspect that once again, I’m seeing Rodrigue’s creation in a way that he didn’t think of when creating it, but that doesn’t mean the result isn’t pretty smart.