If you happen to see a life-sized rhinoceros with golden horns, coated in one thousand real one-dollar bills on the streets of L.A. don’t be alarmed. The rhino is a sculpture called Rhinos Don’t Grow on Trees, by L.A. urban artist, MIDAS that is part of a six-month exhibition titled Funny Zoo L.A.
Beginning mid-June, Malibu-based Funny Zoo, will be placing life-sized wildlife animal sculptures around Los Angeles, from Venice and Malibu to Beverly Hills and Hollywood to call attention to endangered wildlife and the environment.
Animals include, pandas and polar bears, dolphins, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, horses and more. Each playfully hand-painted by L.A. artists.
The event culminates in a black tie gala auction in December, benefiting California Wildlife Center, the group known for rescuing sick and stranded sea lion pups along the California coast.
“You can see a lot of strange things in L.A., yet people tend to notice a money-covered rhino, or a fashionable 10-foot tall giraffe dressed in purple polka dots and pearls [by well-known street artist, Punk Me Tender]. I jumped at the chance to help out by recruiting artists to paint, and collectors to sponsor these full-scale sculptures. Funny Zoo also gave me the ability to sell the sculptures outright before the auction to my clients,” explains dealer/curator Chuck Wolf of L.A.’s The Wolf Fine Art.
Funny Zoo’s founders, Bernard Scoffié and Jean-Fabrice Brunel, are devoted animal lovers. Scoffié is Vice President of ‘30 Millions D’Amis’ animal foundation. Both have extensive backgrounds in event planning through their Malibu-based company, French Pacific Events, they successfully debuted Funny Zoo in Marseille.
“It’s been our dream to bring this exhibition to the United States” says Scoffié, whose dream has come true with a June 2016 launch date set for Malibu.
Scoffié points out that “Our underlying idea is to get wildlife out of the captivity of zoos and free them to the public streets where their playful, imaginative, stand-ins can be safely introduced to the public in an exciting, up-close and personally engaging encounter.”
“As a dealer I thought the price for the sculptures was very reasonable, but my greater interest is in the opportunity to contribute to promoting the combination of causes I personally care about: the art and artists, animal welfare, and the environment. Plus it’s a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see the next pieces created,” says Wolf.
Prior to launching the exhibit, life-sized wildlife sculptures like kangaroos, lions, tigers, dolphins and rhinos have made appearances at Venice boardwalk, and the Venice Art Crawl. In February young visitors to the Zimmer Museum for Children painted a polar bear as part of Funny Zoo’s educational Initiative, an innovative way for children, students, and the general public to learn about endangered species conservation, biodiversity and art. A free educational kit for teachers and students will be distributed which include information, photos and other data that teachers may incorporate into their curriculum, appropriate for classes ranging between sciences and the arts.
The cash-coated rhino with the golden horns has also exhibited at the new L.A. Animal History Museum. “I curated “Live From Burbank” for the museum in April, and the MIDAS work was our center piece for the show,” adds Wolf. “They drove this huge rhino, uncovered in the back of a pickup on the L.A. freeways from Malibu to Burbank in the spitting rain and said people kept slowing down to look. That’s the kind of curiosity and awe that art is supposed to evoke.”
“For our sponsors and collectors there will also be a full-color catalog of the exhibit, crediting both artist and owner,” Wolf says. “Each sculpture is exhibited with a custom plaque bearing the names of both. We do a cocktail reception for the artist’s unveiling at the sponsor location or collector’s house prior to public placement, and in the end auctioning is optional…so another unique perk of sponsorship, aside from the French food and wine is that you actually own the piece of artwork. Anyone can get involved, we have individuals to international brands at this point, and there are six months to get in on Funny Zoo L.A., so you can add an animal at anytime.” Visit funnyzoo.us for details.