I am not an art collector nor am I knowledgable in any way about art of any kind. But, long ago, in my teenage disenfranchised years, I discovered Andy Warhol and by extension, I discovered Pop Art.
When I was in my late teens, I started reading about Andy and his factory superstars, most notably, Edie Sedgewick. How I wished I could be a silver haired gamine with gigantic earrings and eyes like saucers. But this was not to be, which might be okay as I also sidestepped the addiction to speed and the other less appealing elements of her "poor little rich girl" persona. My fascination with Edie eventually waned, but my love Andy's art remained.
The design elements of my home have never been very pop art friendly. I have tended toward color schemes and furnishings that just don't mesh with the bold, primary color palate of most pop art. The exception to this rule being my den.
For years, my den has housed all of the boldly colored, poppy prints and fabrics that fit the Warhol aesthetic. It has also housed a drum kit, PA columns, mixing board and mic stands, as the de facto home and practice space of my son's band.
Within the last year, with hectic work and college schedules, the band's practice and touring schedule have waned. We felt that this was our cue to reclaim our den, redecorate and de-clutter. A full gutting was in order as the floors, walls and furnishings had been punished beyond any reasonable expectation of service. Everything would go. Everything except...the Blue Dog.
Back in the late 1990's, my husband and I discovered New Orleans. One night, during a particularly satisfying dinner at K-Paul's, I teetered to the bathroom in the kind of semi-conscious stupor that can only be produced by copious amounts of good New Orleans food and cocktails, and I was struck in the heart by a painting of a blue dog on a yellow background. The eyes of the dog were painted a glowing yellow, and its expression was one of bemused concern. Poor little doggie, I thought, he needs a friend. This was my first encounter with the Blue Dog.
Subsequent visits to New Orleans and a little research revealed to me that the Blue Dog was about as ubiquitous in New Orleans as yellow cabs are in New York City. I learned that the Blue Dog was based on the legend of the loup garou, a demon wolf dog who supposedly prowled the swamps of Louisiana, waiting to pounce on naughty children. But George Rodrigue had changed the face of the loup garou and morphed it into a friendly dog with a look in his eyes that to me, conveyed a confusion with life. He seemed to be puzzled by it all and a little worried. This was an emotion that I could relate
When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in September of 2005, we had been in the planning process to make another trip to New Orleans in early December. We were heartbroken for the people of New Orleans and wanted to help in some way. We took to the internet and searched to see if Rodrigue's studio was in tact (it was, but lacked the infrastructure to operate for a while), and to see what relief efforts were out there that we could contribute to. In his own quest to help the relief effort, he offered signed prints of a special painting called "We will rise again" in conjunction with a donation to the Red Cross. The purchase of this painting was a no-brainer for me. In lieu of a trip to New Orleans, we bought a print.
When my Blue Dog arrived, I went to a framing store and had it set in a colorful red and orange, wood frame. When I told my husband about the color choice, he looked at me like I had lost my mind, but I knew I was right, and I was. Evidence below. So there.
The remodel of our den took a very mod almost Mad Men-like cocktail culture kind of look. With a grey flannel couch and soft grey walls, adding colorful accents was key. And while I was able to keep the Blue Dog in his place of honor above the couch, the sparse, modern furnishings made him look lonely and even sadder than he had always been. He needed friends.
I scoured the stores and internet for pop-art doggie prints that would help bolster my sad little Blue Dog, but none of the pictures I found were soulful enough to match the Blue Dog's intensity. He needed pals that had longing in their eyes, that understood that people and the world are effed up and need to get in touch with their kinder side. I realized that such soulful pups were right under my feet. Literally, under my feet.
My sad little Blue Dog will always have a mournful gaze as Hurricaine Katrina is not easily forgotten. But now he has two pals named Brownie and Buzz, who share his bemusement with the world and want it to be a better, kinder place. The trio and their matching thousand yard stares, say it all.