From: Judy Molland, Care2
Published September 19, 2013 09:10 AM

Chimp Haven wins $10,000 Grant for Chimp's Artwork

Watch out, Picasso! Make room for Brent, a 37-year-old chimpanzee! One of Brent's paintings recently won first prize and $10,000 for Chimp Haven Sanctuary.

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Chimp Haven Sanctuary is a national sanctuary in northwest Louisiana for chimps retired from federal research. This is the same sanctuary that will be receiving many of the 310 chimps that the National Institutes of Health recently announced it will be retiring from research.

The primate, a retired laboratory animal, who uses his tongue to apply color instead of a brush, received the most votes in the chimpanzee art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States. Five other sanctuaries competed, using paintings created during "enrichment sessions," but Brent's delicate smears of blue, violet, yellow and turquoise triumphed.

When The Associated Press asked for a comment from Brent on his success, his handlers at Chimp Haven said that the chimp couldn't be reached for comment because he was asleep. Ah, the hard life of an artist!

The awe-inspiring Jane Goodall, who has devoted her life to working with chimps, was the judge, choosing her favorite from the selection of entries, which were voted for by 27,000 online participants. Runners-up included the former lab monkey Cheetah, whose burst of hot reds and yellows earned him second place.

A profile of Brent on the Humane Society's website says he has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006, is protective of an even older chimp at the sanctuary and "loves to laugh and play." In regards to his artistic style, the profile says: "Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art."

Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven's president and CEO, said she chose a painting by Brent partly because of that unusual method. She also assured worried animal-lovers that Brent uses only pre-applied blobs of tempera paint that are child-safe — so presumably also chimp-safe.

This is Brent's special method. Other chimps use brushes or point to the colors they want on the canvas.

It is wonderful to know that these animals can enjoy such a creative retirement after what must have been a wretched working life. I'm wondering about what art work might be produced by fellow creatures? Are there other budding animal artists waiting to be discovered?

Read more at Care2.

Brent's painting via The Humane Society.

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