The first time Wendy Wolfe saw a George Rodrigue painting, it stopped her in her tracks. “I went to his gallery (in the French Quarter) on a Sunday afternoon,” she recalls of that day in 1991. “I had never seen a Blue Dog painting. It was a gigantic oil, six feet tall. I thought it was the most magnificent painting I’d ever seen in my life.”
That reaction was out of character for Wolfe, who was studying art history at Tulane University.
As Wolfe stood in the Rodrigue gallery, dazzled by her first encounter with the famous Blue Dog, the gallery manager offered her a job as a salesperson. “I was two months away from getting my master’s at Tulane,” she says. “I had never wanted to do gallery work. I wanted to do museum work. But I knew this was an opportunity that wouldn’t come again. So I quit school and went to work in the gallery.”
She quickly got up to speed on Rodrigue’s work. He is best known for his series of paintings that began as a tribute to his late, beloved dog, Tiffany.
Later that year Wolfe moved to Carmel, where she managed Rodrigue’s California gallery for six years. Wolfe and George Rodrigue married in 1997. The couple lived in Lafayette until 2000, when they moved to New Orleans. “George bought it without me even seeing it, but I love it,” she says of their three-story house in the Marigny district.
“We researched our house at the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC),” she says. “It’s a Creole-style townhouse built in 1835 by a free man of color, Nicholas Foche, who was an architect. It had a dirt floor well into the 1950s. It was a bar for a hundred years; the bar was on the first floor, the second floor was a bordello, and the third story was where they lived.”
Today Rodrigue is the main archivist of her husband’s work and is active in both the gallery and the Rodrigue Foundation. She was pleased that readers chose HNOC as their favorite French Quarter cultural experience. “It is a hidden jewel,” she says. “A lot of people don’t know about it. It’s free, and it’s such a wonderful opportunity for everyone. “
The complex of historic French Quarter buildings includes a museum, with a gallery for changing exhibitions and ten Louisiana history galleries showcasing permanent displays tracing Louisiana’s past, as well as the Williams Residence house museum. The Williams Research Center makes available to researchers the collection’s holdings which comprise some 35,000 library items, more than two miles of documents and manuscripts, and approximately 350,000 photographs, prints, drawings, paintings, and other artifacts.
“I used to go there with my grandmother to see the old political memorabilia about Huey and Earl (Long),” Rodrigue recalls. “The maps alone are fascinating. I always get a real sense of history there.”
To see the runners up and read about Wendy Rodrigue who served as curator for this category, CLICK HERE.