It’s one of the most unlikely combinations – but the results are impressive.
When Kate Pierson, lead singer of the legendary B-52 and avid animal rights activist, visited her old friend Dan Mathews at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, after a performance in Fort Lauderdale, they decided to hatch a plan.
The Love Shack star watched in awe as some of the chimpanzees showed off their artistic skills by picking up a paintbrush and letting their colors flow.
Some used brushes, others their fingers, while one simply used his lips and filled the room with kisses.
“It’s kind of nice,” Dan said.
Not all primates – there are about 225 Save the chimpanzees – like painting, but those who did that were chosen for a very special mission.
“Just as human artists tend to be more introspective as individuals, it was actually only the more introspective chimpanzees who got into painting,” Dan said.
In advance of the Santa Fe art show earlier this summer, Kate and Dan planned a unique, “cross-species” art project to launch on World Chimpanzee Day.
Known for their colorful album covers, the B-52s painted the primary colors on square canvases and then selected the color combinations to give to their new chimpanzee friends as a finishing touch.
“When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Linda Mariano, marketing director at Redwood Art Groupsaid The US Sun.
“But the results were incredible. Everyone was enthusiastic about the chimpanzees’ work.”
Prices for the artwork range from $1,000 to $5,000 and the collection has already raised $33,000, with all the money going to the Save the Chimps Foundation.
Additionally, each painting offers the opportunity to adopt the chimpanzee whose work they purchased.
“We weren’t entirely sure how the audience would react, but in the end two-thirds of the collection sold out straight away,” added Dan, who will now bring the collection to the museum Spectrum Miami art exhibition later this year.
The B-52s were “amazed” by the immediate response and had no hesitation in moving the exhibit to Vegas while looking forward to the reception they would receive during Miami Art Week in December.
Meanwhile, the chimpanzees just happily go about their business.
“Some of them love foraging, some of them really love blankets. They put on scarves and look almost like Hungarian peasant women,” Dan said with a smile.
“One of the chimpanzees, Hailey, carries a cell phone and looks almost like a Kardashian, but they all have completely different personalities.”
However, the painting provides a fascinating insight into the creativity of these lovable creatures.
“We always hear that chimpanzees have 98 percent of the same DNA as humans, but then this project brought out another element, the creative impulses,” Dan said.
“This is something we also share with chimpanzees. Watching them paint is just wonderful.”