Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
We’ve been granted an exclusive interview with Alfred Watkins, the Aspen-based artist who calls himself “Crisco.” Mr. Watkins has been working on a secret installation piece in Aspen for several years. Today he discusses his project in detail.
Irrelativity: Welcome, Crisco.
Crisco: Thank you.
I: Tell me about the inspiration for your project.
C: My parents were cat people. We always had a litter box, and as the youngest of four children the job of cleaning it always fell on me. One day, out of boredom, I began to create little sculptures from these little kitty Lincoln Logs. I knew then that my destiny was to create art from the waste of domestic animals, but I didn’t yet know how. One morning several years back I saw a German shepherd taking a squat in a flower bed in the park. Its owner grabbed one of those green bags from the dispenser, scooped it up, put it in the trash. It was like fireworks of inspiration going off.
I: Fireworks? Really?
C: Yep. A true moment of clarity.
I: OK … but fireworks? I mean, you have seen REAL fireworks before, right?
C: What if, I thought, rather than throwing that bag away, that woman would have filled it with doggie doo and just left it there on the sidewalk?
C: And that’s the day my life’s work began. Nobody would actually go to the trouble of curbing their dog and then just leaving the bag there. I mean, if you’re gonna leave it there, why not just walk away without the disgusting scooping and bagging part?
I: But wait a minute, people do that all the time! I’ve seen those little steaming bags all over town, on trails, even in parks where garbage cans are 10 feet away. When the snow melts you can see a winter’s worth of them poking through the thaw like some perverse Easter egg hunt. It’s repulsive.
C: Well, I certainly appreciate the flattery.
I: I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.
C: All those bags you’re referring to … I put them there. All of them. I go around scooping up dog crap in those little bags and leaving them conspicuously on the sides of public paths and trails.
C: Look, the purpose of art is to elicit an emotional response, right? Well, what do you think each time you see my work?
I: I usually think, “What kind of an asshole would do such a thing?”
C: Exactly. You question the very nature of your species. You even fantasize about one day catching someone in the act of leaving one of those doodie bags behind. And, despite how superior you feel initially, you eventually start to ask yourself some big questions. What is your own personal version of leaving behind a poop bag? Even though you DON’T do that particular thing, you start to ponder more deeply the things you do do. Right?
I: I suppose.
C: These are good and necessary questions and help us heal and evolve. You don’t think about things like that while looking at a watercolor painting of a sailboat, now do you?
I: No, I guess I don’t.
C: You’re welcome.
I: What are you calling your project? And, perhaps more importantly, when are you going to be done?
C: The project is called “Sit! Stay! Heal!” My eventual goal is to completely encircle the town of Aspen with poop bags, then start to fill it in from the outside. Soon you’ll need a shovel just to get to City Market. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but when you love it as much as I do, it doesn’t really feel like work.
I: Are you worried that imitators will threaten the integrity of your art? Like, people will see your crap-filled bags around town and think, hey, this person left THEIR bag of dog crap here, maybe I’ll just do the same with mine.
C: No, I don’t really see that happening. Like you said earlier, I don’t believe anyone could be THAT much of an asshole.
I: Crisco, we’re out of space. Good luck with your future endeavors.
C: Thanks. And I’d like everyone to know that signed and numbered originals of my work are available online.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User