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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!


#54. I think that what is art should be art, and what is not, should not.

Okay, I’m not sure that makes any damned sense. Allow me to explain. No, really, allow me. I can do it. Just watch.

What I mean is, I like art. Paintings and sculptures and statues and all that shit. I’m down with art. But what I’m not down with is taking something that’s not art, and making it art. You know, something that you could actually use.

Take plates, for instance. Plates are not art. Plates are dinnerware. Dinner. Ware. When I see a plate in a frame on the wall, or in some holder on a mantel, I don’t think, ‘Hey, cool plate.‘ No. I think, ‘Goddammit, somebody could be eating pork chops off that thing right now!‘ Why would you take a perfectly good food holder out of circulation like that?

Now, I like to think I’m not unreasonable about this. I make exceptions for really, really old plates, for instance. If it’s so valuable that you wouldn’t want to risk using it, then by all means, pop it in a glass case and display it somewhere. But most of the ‘decorative plates’ you see are not valuable. They’re not even attractive, for the most part. The vast majority of these monstrosities would benefit from a heap of mashed potatos globbed onto them, to hide the cheesy flowers or Civil War diorama painted on the face.

But it’s not just plates, or even art, that burns my ass this way. I’m generally not a fan of anything that I’m told not to use the way it was meant to be used. When I was growing up, we had our living room, and then there was the ‘front room’, with the ‘nice couches’. And did we sit on the nice couches? No. Only when we had guests, nad we could all sit in the front room and ‘visit’. Grrrr. Why the fuck did we have couches, if not to sit on? What the hell kind of sense did that make? Oh, sure, I had to help dust ’em, and sweep the carpet around ’em, but sit on ’em? All by myself? Smack my little hand, no. Bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch.

And I feel the same way about art. If you can use something, then frickin’ use it. Don’t set it on a pedestal or frame it or put it in a box. Use it. That’s what it’s there for. By all means, go create pretty shit. Go paint, and sculpt, and crush pennies with those little machines. (The smashed-up pennies are pretty interesting, and the original coins are damned near useless, so I don’t have a problem with this.) But don’t commandeer perfectly good objects lying around with a purpose for their aesthetic potential.

Look, if you’re not convinced, look at it this way. Would we do the same thing to people? If there’s someone out there serving a valid purpose, but they’re really hot, do we whisk them away to be swimsuit models, never to contribute to society again? No, of course not. We let them continue to fill whatever role they’re playing. So Gabrielle Reece still plays volleyball, and Heather Graham still acts, and Anna Kournikova… um, loses tennis matches. And, er, does an awful lot of modeling. Okay, so she’s not the best example in the world.

But still! We don’t frame these people in wood and put ’em on the shelf because they’re beautiful; we let ’em do their damned jobs. And that’s all I ask of artists. Leave the useful shit out there alone. You want to make art out of these things? Paint a picture of ’em. Snap a photo. Or carve your own damn ‘art plate’ out of granite; I don’t care. But if you want to use a perfectly good plate, then it had better involve a sandwich, or some pork chops. I’m tired of you people raiding our kitchens and calling it a masterpiece. The plate stops here.

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