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In the fall of 2004, local filmmaker Andy Cockrum and artist Heyd Fontenot led a select group of area artists to the Primarily Primates sanctuary just south of Austin. The artists were there to sketch and record their impressions of the animals and the facility, for the purpose of creating original works of art based on their experience.
Primarily Primates, located in Boerne, Texas, specializes in the care and treatment of monkeys and apes. The organization provides sanctuary, rehabilitation, and lifetime care to over 600 primates of varying species—many threatened and endangered. Among the most notable animals at the sanctuary are primates formerly utilized in the the Air Force astronaut program and as animal acts in the entertainment industry. The sanctuary also provides a permanent home for Oliver, a unique chimpanzee who was exhibited around the world as “The Missing Link” before being held for testing in a small lab for seven years.
The Texas Monkey Project: Art Show and Sale featured fourteen area artists who submitted original works around the primates theme. Contributing artists included Helen Altman, Sharon Bright, D’Ette Cole, Steve Dubov, Heyd Fontenot, Faith Gay, Traci Goudie, Melissa Grimes, Rachel Koper, Christia Madacsi, Edmund Martinez, Michael Sieben, Karen Sorensen, and Andrew Yates.
Founded in 1978 by Wallace Swett, Primarily Primates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has grown from a three-monkey facility to its present size. The majority of primates retired to the sanctuary arrive there after serving as subjects of laboratory research. Others have come from abusive situations in which they are deemed no longer useful, including zoo surplus, and animals bred and sold into the pet trade.
Cockrum’s documentary, The Monkey Project, explores the plight of the animals and the impressions of the artists who traveled to the Sanctuary and contributed works of art.
Some original works of art and limited edition prints are still available for purchase; please click on the Gallery page to view available artwork. To find out more about the art show and the forthcoming documentary, contact Andy Cockrum at 512.933.0154, or firstname.lastname@example.org.