The Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum could soon house a world-famous series of paintings by George Rodrigue. Northwoods Fine Arts Academy teacher Jennifer Barretto recently secured permission to display the art, but first she has to find a way to get it here.
Though the George Rodrigue Foundation has agreed to donate the art for a three-month exhibit next winter, it has to be transported, insured, and protected along its journey. Rodrigue's world-famous Blue Dog paintings are valued at no less than $60,000 apiece, meaning the small Sand Springs museum will have to provide both alarm hooks and security guards for the duration of the visit.
Inspired by the Cajun legend of the loup-garou, Rodrigue's Blue Dog series catapulted him to international acclaim when it was used in an advertising campaign by Absolut Vodka in the early 1990s. Rodrigue passed in 2013 after a battle with lung cancer. His funeral services were open to the public and held at the historic St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
The loup-garou was a Cajun adaptation of the french rougarou, or werewolf. The creature, who typically has a human body and and canine head, is said to prowl the swamps around New Orleans. In some legends he hunts down Catholics who disobey the rules of Lent. In other tales he punishes misbehaving Cajun children.
The Blue Dog is more "man's best friend" than occult phenomenon, sharing the stance and shape of Rodrigue's deceased pet, Tiffany. Barretto's class has spent much of the year learning about Rodrigue's work and imitating it with their own Blue Dog-inspired art.
Barretto believes that the display could draw thousands of visitors to Sand Springs from across the region. In addition to the cultural impact it would have on the community, she believes it will also be a financial stimulus for local shops and restaurants.
The Sand Springs Museum has until August 1st to secure the funding for the exhibit, which would arrive in November. According to Barretto, it would mark the first time that Rodrigue's work has ever been displayed in the State of Oklahoma. Rodrigue's widow, Wendy, and son Jacques will also be on hand to share stories of George.
Sand Springs native actor and musician Sam Harris has gotten involved in the project and has released two promotional videos encouraging people to donate to the cause. Harris has starred on television, film, and even Broadway.
"Art is more than just something pretty or interesting," says Harris. "It is a personal experience...only bound by the imagination of the artist and the viewer. For kids it's really important...it's a foundation for creativity and for critical thinking, things that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."
A GoFundMe account has been set up by Barretto that has already begun receiving donations. To view the page and make a donation, click here.