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You never considered watching an ape paint. But this is Michael Jackson’s chimp

Give an ape a paintbrush and what does he do?

Make art, of course.

Abstract art. Really abstract art. The kind you have to tilt your head to appreciate.

The latest animal to get into the Miami art scene is a celebrity of sorts: Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s former chimpanzee.

On July 21, art collectors and ape lovers alike will have the chance to purchase the art, including pieces from Bubbles. Expect to pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to take one home.

The opening reception of “Apes That Paint” is Friday.

Paintings created by Bubbles and others will be on display for 10 days at Frames USA & Art Gallery, 6822 SW 40th St. in Miami. The gallery will be filled with between 50 to 70 pieces, with pricetag from $200 to $2,000. The other artists include celebrity chimpanzees from “Planet of the Apes,” orangutans from the movie “Going Ape!” and NBC’s soap opera “Passions.”

Proceeds will benefit the Center for Great Apes, where the artists live. It is a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research or from the exotic pet trade.

And if you think these apes are the first in the animal kingdom to take up paintbrush you haven’t been following the art careers ofPatty the Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo, now deceased, and Nellie the elephant. They have done their best creative work at Zoo Miami.

Gallery owner Adam Brand said he got the inspiration for the ape art show after a customer came into the store to frame a painting done by an orangutan.

“What could a frame shop do to help? I said, ‘Let’s do an art show.’ ” Brand said. “Not to mention that the proceeds from the sales of the art will go to an amazing cause.”

At the Center for Great Apes in Central Florida, the primate population finds companionship with their own, often for the first time, said founder Patti Ragan. It is home to almost 50 apes, and the cost to care for each one is $22,000 a year.

Bubbles came to the center when he was 20, Ragan said. Now 34, he is the alpha of his group.

Bubbles is among the oldest apes at the center. He loves to paint, but his favorite activity is playing in tubs of water. He and younger pal Ripley often nap curled around each other, four stories above the ground.

“They have different tastes, just like humans,” she said. “Some don’t like to paint. Others get interested in it and paint and paint and paint.”

Painting is just one of many enrichment activities that helps them rehabilitate from their time in captivity.

“Everyone thought it was great to watch baby apes be raised by people,” she said. “But now awareness of the needs of these animals has been raised tremendously. They really don’t belong in a human home.”


Where: Frames USA & Art Gallery, 6822 SW 40th St., Miami, FL 33155

When: Friday, July 21, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

How: RSVP at