November 08, 2003
Monkey Painting

jwz's Cheeta painting

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

What a wonderful present! I can't believe Cheeta is still alive after all these years... I had no idea. If JWZ ever parts with this painting, please smack him... hard. LOL

Posted by: Aine on November 9, 2003 05:41 PM

oh my God.
you've got to be kidding!

Posted by: wislam on November 17, 2003 01:09 AM

Who is Ashley? Are you finally going to settle down and get married?

Your mother

Posted by: on November 26, 2003 06:20 AM

I was at an art museum today looking at some works by Helen Frankenthaler. A woman walked through the gallery and said that "[she] had seen paintings done by a monkey that was as good as these." In all fairness, I did a Google search on Monkey Paintings and came across your page. Maybe she was on to something.

Posted by: Shelley on January 29, 2004 06:46 PM

How do I get one?

Posted by: michael wilkinson on February 25, 2004 05:12 AM

I would like to know how do I get one too. I love monkeys, and it would be great if I can get one monkey painting. Can you please let me know how would I go about getting one?


Posted by: Karla Rodriguez on May 19, 2004 07:54 AM

Hi! I'm French, and I would like to know how can i get one of those painting?
I really love monkeys en I saw a "show" (une émission) which was talking about this monkey...

Please tell us!



Posted by: Karin Nabialek on July 21, 2004 12:06 PM
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