Bob Shaffer, also known as “Dr. Bob” has made the phrase “Be Nice or Leave” as much a part of his identity as the found objects he transforms into his artwork. Half Crow Indian and half French/German, Dr. Bob was born in Kansas in 1952 and came to New Orleans via Lake Pontchartrain. It was while he lived “across the lake” that he became familiar with the alligator, an image that appears repeatedly in his work. Creatures from the bayou, the characters of the Quarter, and the spirits and demons of the Crescent City are all captured in the visionary paintings and assemblages created from architectural salvage and numerous found objects from the city, the river and the swamp.
Dr. Bob’s early works are mostly carvings, then, one day according to him, “I ran out of wood, so I just started messing around with paint.”
Dr. Bob Shaffer
He works on “whatever surface speaks to me” — garbage can covers become flower gardens, a discarded fiddle bow becomes a tribute to his friend Clarence “Gatemouth Brown, and assembled bottle caps are transformed into a skeleton on a salvaged crack house door.
Dr. Bob, a former forest ranger and construction worker is now a regular guest artist at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His work is featured in many private collections including such notables as Emmy Lou Harris, Isaac Tigrett, Mariah Carey, Ellen DeGeneres and the Reverend Howard Finster. Dr. Bob’s work is also part of the permanent collection at the New Orleans House of Blues, the Memphis Blues Foundation and the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis.
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