Listen closely. Can you hear her baying “Geaux Tigers” somewhere in the crowd? Admittedly, you’ll have to use your imagination for that. But you can definitely see her, because Tiffany has a way of standing out.
First of all, she’s blue. Second, she’s big - at least a foot taller than her creator, George Rodrigue. Meaning Tiffany’s football jersey would be the biggest in Tiger Stadium. She is “A Number One Tiger Fan,” after all.
That’s the number on her jersey. It’s also the title of the newest painting in Rodrigue’s Blue Dog series. It will hang in the LSU Museum of Art, where Rodrigue officially unveiled it on June 6.
Now, some clarification is needed here. Many people perceive Rodrigue’s Blue Dog as male. The artist actually based the Blue Dog on his late studio dog Tiffany when he was developing an image for the loup-garou for a book of Cajun ghost stories.
The loup-garou is Louisiana’s legendary werewolf of sorts.
But the Blue Dog is really no werewolf - she’s a Tiger fan. And this number one Tiger fan not only commemorates the LSU Museum of Art’s upcoming retrospective exhibit of Rodrigue’s works, but also serves as a means of fundraising.
The museum’s exhibit, Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River: George Rodrigue from the New Orleans Museum of Art and Other Collections, will run from July 23 through Sept. 18, highlighting the progression of George Rodrigue’s 40-year career.
The show also will mark the end of the exhibit’s state tour and will be the biggest on the tour with some 70 pieces from the New Orleans Museum of Art, Rodrigue’s personal archives and local private collections.
Of course, “A Number One Tiger Fan” will be among these pieces, and prints of this painting will be sold during the exhibit and through football season. The actual end date for print sales is Jan. 1, 2012. Proceeds will benefit the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, the Tiger Athletic Foundation and the LSU Museum of Art.
“LSU has been wanting me to do this for a long time after the painting of the LSU Tiger,” Rodrigue said.
Rodrigue referred to his portrayal of LSU mascot Mike the Tiger in the 2003 painting “I Like Mike.” Print sales generated more than $1 million, which benefited the construction of Mike’s new habitat.
“We thought this would be a good excuse to raise money for the Rodrigue Foundation, the LSU Museum of Art and TAF,” Rodrigue said.
His comment generated laughter just before the painting was unveiled. Laughter gave way to applause when “A Number One Tiger Fan” was uncovered.
A framed print of the painting also was unveiled.
“The LSU Museum of Art will be the only place that you will be able to physically buy the print,” Rodrigue said.
Otherwise, prints can be purchased by calling (800) 716-8335 or visiting http://www.arts4education.org. Prints are $500. Special edition prints are $50,000.
Also on sale at the museum store will be special edition prints of the Blue Dog painting designed for the exhibition poster for $1,500 and exhibition posters for $25.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to do something to benefit education throughout the South and at LSU,” said Gen. Ronald Richard, TAF’s president and CEO.
Richard said sales proceeds going to the Tiger Athletic Foundation will directly benefit student athletes through the Cox Communications Athletic Center.
“When we brought the artist’s proof to the print shop, the phone started ringing for this print,” Richard said.
The Tiger Athletic Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting LSU and its athletic program.
Meanwhile, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts advocates the importance of visual arts in the development of youth. The foundation’s programs include an annual scholarship contest, the distribution of art supplies for Louisiana schools through “George’s Art Closet,” free lesson plans for teachers, school visits and art therapy.
Finally, the LSU Museum of Art collects, conserves, exhibits and interprets the fine and decorative arts entrusted to its care and stewardship. Museum director Tom Livesay attended the unveiling ceremony, as well as exhibit sponsor Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Canes restaurants.
And “A Number One Tiger Fan” remained in place after everyone left in anticipation of the upcoming exhibit. And the upcoming football season.