‘Bring on the bathtubs,’ says local humorist

So. How about those bathtubs?

You know, Victorian era bathtubs on stilts, high up in downtown Petaluma.

Have you heard of them? Have you heard how much they upset people? Evidently some Petalumans don't want the town to be associated with bathing. Personally, I've thought about it and I'm totally in favor of this art, wherever it ends up being installed.

I don't think we should call it “art” though.

An installation of this nature transcends the limitless forms that art can take.

Art can be anything.

You can paint, you can draw, you do photography. Artists can pursue writing, singing and acting too. Art has no boundaries. An installation like this, something that is put out into the public for all to see, it has too many eyes on it to be whatever it wants.

It's just bathtubs.

Wait. There are no naked people in them, right? Of course not. We wouldn't want any kind of lewd imagery seen out there or to associate an entire town with such visuals.

The way the bathtub project would be installed also has limits.

‘Bring on the bathtubs,’ says local humorist

The stilts, for example.

The laws of physics do apply in the real world. If this were a drawing, you could sketch the bathtubs to be suspended by anymeans. It wouldn’t have to be stilts. The material and structure would not have to actually support the weight of the tubs, or be concerned about things like weather, stress or age, or any of those other real-world applications. A painting could just show the tubs floating in the air with no support. It could exist in it's own world.

In Petaluma, we're talking about a large scale construction project that just happens to have some creative flair to it. This is more like architecture. It needs to be designed and put into place with all those real world applications taken into account. It’s a reminder of things like physics and weight distribution and wind resistance.

That is not what art does.

Once I accept that the Petaluma bathtubs are notart and are simply an eccentric construction project, it's a lot easier for me to get behind it. Though, I'm sure the artist has to think about things like, would the bathtubs collect water from the rain or have their drains open? Just because i don’t know the answer to that question doesn’t mean the artist hasn’t already considered it and addressed it.

Once you stop thinking of the bathtubs as an attempt at art, you start to see potential non-art benefits for them. Birds surely would find these elevated structures useful. We still like birds, right? Maybe a swarm of bees would find the bathtubs welcoming as a home.

Rats couldn’t make it up there, could they?

Never underestimate nature.

So, oh yes, please, bring on the bathtubs. I can't wait. I look forward to the frustration people will express by them merely existing, people commenting on how much money was wasted on them — as if money has never been distributed in a non-wasteful way, and this is the one and only time in human history where something was done without unanimous consent.

Please, please, I want all of this — all of this in the name of something that isn't even art.

To sum up, I propose that if you are against the bathtubs, you haven't considered all the delicious angles in this. I’m guessing you enjoy being upset by inconsequential things. So just imagine the amount of satisfaction you will derive from all the inconvenience and suffering to be experienced once the new bird-and-bee construction project finally goes up.

Oliver Graves is an award-winning columnist and stand-up comic. His column, “Oliver’s World,” runs every-other-week in the Argus-Courier. Find out more on his Facebook page or at OliverGraves.com.