What do you get the man who has everything? Well, this year I got jwz a birthday present that combines two of his favourite things - firstly removing the artist from the creative process and secondly, of course, monkeys.
A while ago in a used books store in the Mission after a late night dinner, I came across a book about Monkey Painting, and immediately realised this idea had potential.
It turns out that there monkey painting exhibitions in London in the 60's where much monkey art was displayed - and sold. I really thought I might be able to track one down, and so the ebaying and googling commenced. In reality howerver I found nothing, and I had just about given up hope when I spotted a news story about Cheeta of Tarzan fame, who at 71 was now the oldest living chimpanzee - living happily in Palm Springs. As luck would have it, painting was one of his hobbies. I tracked down a phone number and called, and got voicemail -
"You have reached the home of Cheeta the chimp's monkey sanctuary. I'm sorry we can't come to the phone right now, we're probably out back monkeying around! Please leave a message."
Later I was able to speak to Dan Westfall, Cheeta's caretaker, and arrange for him to paint a one-off canvas as a gift. He's still does interviews and photo shoots for magazines to this day, and Dan is careful to let Cheeta only use children's acrylic paints which are edible - when Cheeta gets going the paint goes everywhere!
A week or two later, the painting arrived complete with certificate of authenticity and signed prints of Cheeta, and I was able to give it to jwz on his birthday, right after the Genitorturer's show at the DNALounge.
I think he likes it, since he made a page about it here.
Update: It looks like Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing wants one too!Posted by ashleyniblock at November 08, 2003 06:19 PM