The B-52s Are Up to Monkey Business at Spectrum Miami, Selling Art They Created With Chimps

Proceeds from the works will benefit the Save The Chimps sanctuary in Florida.

Kate Pierson of the B-52s at "The B-52s and Save the Chimps Wild Planet Collection" at The Punk Rock Museum on August 31, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

When not being the world’s leading source of new wave pop, the B-52s have been painting—and with some unlikely collaborators to boot. 

At the Spectrum Miami art fair, the “Love Shack” hitmakers are unveiling a series of works they created alongside chimpanzees—yes, the animals—from the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. The sanctuary, one of the world’s largest, provides care for more than 220 primates rescued from medical laboratories and the entertainment industry. 

The B-52’s & Save the Chimps, Pump (2023). Courtesy of Redwood Art Group.

The pieces were created over a six-month period earlier this year. Band members Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, and Cindy Wilson first painted the base coats on these canvases, before they were shipped to Art Santa Fe, where animals recently rescued from a New Mexico laboratory were being housed. There, 16 chimps with names like Brandy, Lisa Marie, Kramer, and Marlon added brush strokes using color combinations specified by the band. 

“It’s definitely the artwork of the chimps, but we created the backdrop,” Pierson told Closer. “It’s a collaboration.” 

The B-52’s & Save the Chimps, Deadbeat Club (2023). Courtesy of Redwood Art Group.

The resulting project features 52 acrylic paintings, pigmented with vibrant colors intended to evoke the bright covers of the group’s records. Each piece is named after a B-52s track or lyric—”Devil in My Car,” “The Whole Shack Shimmies,” “Roam”—and signed by the member who painted its base coat.  

All works are now available for sale at the fair and online, priced between $750 and $3,000, with proceeds directly benefiting Save the Chimps.  

The B-52’s & Save the Chimps, Cosmic Thing (2023). Courtesy of Redwood Art Group.

This latest group of paintings follows the B-52s’s first partnership with Save the Chimps in August, which produced some 30 pieces that went on view at the Punk Rock Museum in Las Vegas. Pierson, who first visited the sanctuary in the summer of 2022, said of the primates: “There are just a certain percentage of them that like to paint. They have a creative urge, and they focus, and they hold the brush—it’s just kind of wow.” 

The B-52s, too, have had a history of advocating for animal welfare. The band’s 1979 break-out “Rock Lobster,” Pierson told Vulture, “represents animal rights”; in 1988, the group played PETA’s Animal Rights Music Festival, where the singer walked out onstage hand-in-hand with a chimp. 

“On my bucket list is to do all I can to bring peace and enlightenment and light into the world,” she added. “And also, to try my best to save this planet. And Save the Chimps is part of that.” 

Spectrum Miami is on view at Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW 5th Avenue @ NW 22nd St, Miami, Florida, December 6–10.

 

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