Friday, March 13, 2009
I love gorillas nearly as much as I love cavemen. I wonder what that says about me, hmm, I will ponder that one another day. In the late 70's, I spent hours in the Ape house of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago sketching the great apes. I loved drawing the form of one powerful Gorilla in particular named of all things, Fred. One day as I was standing by the glass with my wife, Jackie, Fred sauntered over. Standing there in front of me, motionless, Fred posed sideways to the glass nonchalantly showing off his massive arms and incredible physique. Without warning, Fred launched a powerful fist directly at my face and pounded the glass with a thunderous boom. The action caused the crowd there to gasp and I was proud that I didn't scream out like a school girl. I stood there stunned, mouth agape, checking my chest for pulse. My wife and I couldn't stop talking about it for days or at least I couldn't stop talking about it. A couple of months later, my brother in law, Bob came to town and we took him over to the zoo and of course to the Ape house. I had to introduce everyone to my buddy Fred, and as soon as we were in front of Fred's enclosure I started to tell Bob the story of Fred and our stormy relationship. As I came to the conclusion of the story, Fred looked over in my direction, rose from his seated position in the back of the glass cage, and slowly made his way in front of me. He stood there motionless once again and I thought for sure we were going to be treated to a repeat performance. Instead, Fred raised his giant hand, suspending it for a moment and then gently tapped the glass in front of my nose. He then returned back to his favorite spot after his little joke left me once again speechless. Remarkable. So here is my portrait of Fred and the gorillas he inspired for a commercial that Knock Knock Cartoons did years later for the Field Museum of Chicago. Research never dies, it just gets filed away.