A Compelling List
As a kid growing up in Iowa during WWII, I’d often run to an area near our town square, for it was there that a huge white board was posted on the exterior wall of a dry goods store. To me, the board represented a frightening prospect: would my father’s name (in black script) appear among the list of missing and/or dead from our community, pop. 2,000?
No, but because he served four years as an Army medic, his name was listed, along with other military males. Through the eyes of a fifth grader, the list was pure hell. I was certain that my father would be either MIA or dead.
I thought of that white board as I stood facing Green Gallery East. The reflections of the bustling street to the west of me, merged with the black- printed-on-white list of names attached to the glass on the gallery’s interior five panes. Anyone cutting across the paved slice of concrete fronting the former ’50s pizza joint could easily access the aptly titled “Table of Contents.”
The list was compiled by Paul Druecke. So what? Any fool can make a list of alphabetized names. What’s so clever about a list?
Quite a bit actually, though much of it is in my eyes-beholding as I stand in the blast of summer sun, trying to peruse every name so as not to miss MINE in case it is there. An obviously condo-style couple approaches, but only briefly, as if they can’t stand lists. I ask if there is anyone on the list that they know.
Okay, now I’m really into it, never mind that my name isn’t among the honored, but why do I say “honored?” Maybe the democratic Druecke inserted the names of his enemies here and there? I see names of my enemies. I make a note that Drueckes other than Paul Druecke are listed, for example, Christy and Ben.
One chap is listed as “Bob,” another as “E.C.” Green’s co-owner, John Riepenhoff doesn’t appear (ethics perhaps?) but his brother Joe Riepenhoff does. Nor do I spot any local gallerist’s monikers, and wow! not one local art reviewer’s name. I seek out Mary Louise Schumacher, bless her. Confession: I read the list thrice and my name does not appear. Why Nicholas Frank and not me?
Could it be this is meaningless unless your name or the name of someone you love (or hate) is on it? Is the list posted as a reminder that, in less than a century (or in my case, way less) we’ll all be blowing in the wind, and to hell with the list thing? Lists are made to tweak our memories, so if no one is around to remember, well, you get the drift….it’s quite a bit like the “if a tree falls in the forest” tale.
Put this event on your list before it closes on July 25. Then make a note to enter the gallery and see what’s on the inside. Gallery Night & Day is upon us, and you’ll have an opportunity to view another kind of remembering at Portrait Society Gallery — another must for your list.
“Table of Contents” is currently on view at the Green Gallery East, located at 1500 N. Farwell Ave, until July 25. For more information, click here.