Baton Rouge artist Christopher Turner had a unique challenge: to design a poster of Louisiana legends for Friends of Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
So he harkened back to another Louisiana legend, his friend George Rodrigue, in coming up with a concept.
The poster Turner created — featuring former Gov. Kathleen Blanco; novelist and screenwriter Robert Crais; Joe Dumars, two-time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons; Louisiana artist Rolland Golden; and Roger Odgen, real estate developer, civic leader and philanthropist — will be part and parcel of the organization’s 2015 Louisiana Legends Gala and Auction on May 8 at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol.
Turner has portrayed the honorees in a group, each looking directly at the viewer. He chose this format in the spirit of his late friend Rodrigue, who designed three Louisiana Legends posters.
“George always painted the honorees in full body, and he placed them in a group,” Turner said. “George always had the group in front of some live oak trees, which was one of his trademarks.”
But live oaks aren’t Turner’s trademark.
“I made it look as if they were posing for a group portrait,” Turner said. “It looks like the kind of group shot you would take in high school, with the taller people standing on the back risers. I was working only from their profile shots, and I decided to reach into the past, look at what George did and give it my own twist. It’s something in the middle of realism and impressionism.”
Turner is known for creating paintings during live music events and wedding receptions, including a painting made on the sideline during an LSU Tiger Marching Band pregame performance.
He met Rodrigue in a local restaurant in 2011.
“I introduced myself to George, and he said he knew me from the LSU event,” Turner said. “He had just unveiled the ‘No. 1 Tiger’ print of his Blue Dog in the LSU jersey to benefit the LSU Museum of Art, and he’d gone to LSU to get a parking pass. He said everyone in the office was talking about me that day.”
The artists’ friendship blossomed, with Rodrigue offering Turner art and marketing advice.
“It developed into a kind of mentorship relationship,” Turner said. “I learned a lot from him.”
Rodrigue died in December 2013, and Turner thought of his late friend when seeking out a new art project in 2014.
“George had painted the Louisiana Legends before, so I approached (LPB President and CEO) Beth Courtney about it,” Turner said.
Courtney submitted Turner’s request to Friends of LPB, which gave Turner the green light.
“We’re always looking for new artists, and we are happy to have Christopher as this year’s artist,” said Kate Bradshaw, the Friends of LPB’s special events coordinator and Art & Travel Auction manager. “We’ll give the posters to the honorees and make them available to anyone who attends the gala.”
Tickets are $150 for individuals and $275 for couples.
Bradshaw said the posters will not be on sale to the general public.
“We haven’t done that in the past, but it’s something that we might consider in the future,” she said.