George Rodrigue - Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit makes Oklahoma debut in Sand Springs

The internationally-acclaimed Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit made its Oklahoma debut Saturday evening at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum.

The paintings are the work of the late George Rodrigue, a Louisiana cajun who died in 2013. The blue dog is inspired by the loup-garou (cajun werewolf) and modeled after Rodrigue’s dog Tiffany. The series was used in ad campaigns by Absolut Vodka and Xerox Corporation in the early 1990s and can be seen in the Central Perk coffee shop on the hit television series Friends.

Rodrigue’s career began as a child after being diagnosed with polio. According to his widow, Wendy, his mother bought him a paint set to occupy his time while bedridden. His early work focused on the things he could no longer go out and see in person.

George and Wendy made a large effort to bring his art to schools and use it as an education tool, a mission continued by Wendy and her current husband Douglas Magnus, who was a lifelong friend of Rodrigue. Rodrigue also painted a series of vibrant blue dogs for children’s hospitals, giving the kids a bright distraction from their time in hospice. Those pieces are exclusive to children’s hospitals and do not make their way into museums or other showcases.

Rodrigue-Magnus tours the country with her late husband’s work, and visited several Tulsa-area elementary schools prior to the weekend opening, including Sand Springs’s Northwoods Fine Arts Academy. She also spoke at the Sand Springs Museum’s grand opening.

The exhibit will be open through February 17, 2019 and admission is free. The museum is located at 9 East Broadway in the historic downtown Triangle District. The 1929 art deco masterpiece is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still bears the “Page Memorial Library” designation on the outside.

Bringing the exhibit to Sand Springs was the idea of Northwoods Art Instructor Jennifer Fox Barretto, who spent the last year fundraising, advertising, and working behind the scenes to secure the event.

Museum Hours:
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Wednesday
1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Thursday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday
12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturday
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Sunday