Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Animals create art to benefit sanctuary

Trubble exhibit raises support for Black Pine


Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 2, 2020

With COVID-19 in high dudgeon and events that were scaled back a month ago being canceled outright, there isn’t a lot to look forward to these days.

Well, what if I told you that Trubble Brewing has an art show going on right now that would be unique even if there weren’t a pandemic going on?

It’s called “Art Gone Wild” and it features artwork created by the exotic animals at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion.

“Art created by exotic animals?” you may at this moment be wondering.

Yes, it is true.

Wild art

Kim Roos is one of the lead keepers at Black Pine.

How it works, she said in a phone interview with Whatzup, is that globs of non-toxic paint are placed on canvasses, and animals (lions, tigers, and bears … but also snakes and monkeys and more) are allowed to do whatever they want with and to them.

Sometimes they don’t want to have anything to do with them. Animals who don’t want anything to do with something are not forced to engage with that thing, she said.

“We never force animals to do artwork,” Roos said. “Sometimes we have canvasses where the globs of paint just dry and we don’t try to sell those, of course.”

And sometimes, animals — being animals — do something, well, less than polite on the canvas. (A frustrated human artist might do something similar on a canvas, but it’s the sort of thing he’d do just before he quit being an artist forever.)

For animal artists, excretion isn’t always a form of protest, Roos said.

They may mark a canvas with urine or musk because they’re trying to claim ownership of it or just because they like the smell of the paint.

“We typically don’t sell those though,” Roos said. “Some of the animals have a naturally pungent aroma that comes off on the canvasses when they roll on them.”

Some collectors of animal art seek out musky-smelling canvasses, as well they should.

Monkeying around

If one were to pick the animal most likely to have some grasp, however tenuous, of what it means to create art, it might be the sanctuary’s spider monkey, Lucy.

After all, Koko the gorilla enjoyed painting with a brush.

But Lucy has different priorities.

“She likes the taste of the paint,” Roos said. “So she will take globs of it and lick it.”

Other animal artists participating in the show include a coatimundi, a tiger, a bearded dragon and a potbelly pig/emu duo.

“A potbelly pig and emu collaborated on one,” according to Keli Hankee, co-owner and general manager at Trubble brewing.

Taking the show on the road

The artwork is usually sold in the Black Pine gift shop to benefit the sanctuary, which provides refuge to abused exotic animals that have been raised in captivity.

But the keepers at Black Pine got the idea this year to pair with Trubble for a full-fledged art show.

“We thought maybe we could expand our supporters and things like this,” Roos said.

This has been a tough year for restaurants like Trubble that depend on capacity crowds and organizations like Black Pine that depend on charitable giving, so this team up makes a lot of sense.

The art can be viewed during any socially distanced Trubble meal and/or beer-quaffing session and it can be acquired via silent auction.

A sheet for entering bids will be kept at Trubble until the weekend of Dec. 18.

Winners will be notified on Dec. 23.

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