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For Art's Sake
by Eric Miller

Harte Hingman wondered what on earth made him choose Hinterland College, the prestigious, all male bastion ensconced on a hill in the middle of nowhere. Not only was he not having any fun, but he was sweating bullets to fulfill the sciences he needed to get into medical school. Running after fruit flies in the genetics lab, peering through a microscope in histology, inhaling noxious fumes in chemistry, and fumbling with physics was wearing him down. Moreover, he had to fulfill Hinterland’s own curriculum distribution requirements.

Being advised that “The History of Art” was a guaranteed easy A, he signed his name on the dotted line and headed off to Professor Paul Grosse’s class. The sizeable professor was known among the students as “Paul Gargantuan,” or just “Big Paul.” Harte  discovered quickly that the class was no more than viewing slides projected on the wall. Confident that he could learn them as easily as histology slides, just by studying an art atlas, he stopped attending lectures so he could devote more time to fudging his experiments, which never seemed to turn out as they were expected.

On the last day of class, Harte showed up to take the final exam. He easily identified the slides flashed before the class, but he was taken aback by the following questions Big Paul then dictated: “What is my favorite bistro around the corner from Musée du Louvre? What is my favorite pub across the street from the National Gallery? What color are the wall tiles at my favorite tapas bar next to Museo del Prado? What London musical did I see after viewing my first Turner?”

Harte knew he was between the proverbial palette and canvas. It was clear to him that these questions were meant to identify those students who did not extend the courtesy of their attendance. A large shadow fell over his desk, as his gargantuan professor hovered over him.

“A rather deflating sensation, isn’t it Mr. Harte,” Big Paul’s voice mocked. “Remember young man, respect will get you more than hubris.”

Harte now realized what Churchill meant by “blood, sweat, and tears,” because that is the ink he used to pen his response to the Big Paul’s entrapment questions.

“I knew the paintings, artists, and venues, but this course was not about bistro and pub menus. The color of the tapas tiles was not true, as the lighting changed its natural hue. ‘Sunday in the Park’ was the show it had to be, as George Seurat’s pointillism was a must see.”

Harte rose from his desk and walked to the front of the room, where he handed his test paper to the hulking professor, who took it brusquely from his hand.

“Hingman, take heart. You’re a very bright fellow, but a little too bright for your own good. Although you will not get an A in this course, you will not fail it. Your grade will reflect that you passed this course by a paint brush hair.”