Archives of American Art presents: Lists

September 25, 2010

You know of my obsession with lists. My lists sometimes have lists of things I need to make lists of. I searched lists and found this:

Since we’re going out of town, and traveling to multiple places that involve multiple pairs of shoes, I needed to make extra-detailed lists to keep track of everything. I realized earlier that I’d made a list that referred to another list. That was silly, but not really noteworthy, until I realized that the second list actually referred to a third list. (And that list actually contained a sublist, although the sublist can’t technically, in my opinion, be considered a forth list).

Even I think that’s just sad, and it’s an excerpt from a post on my blog.

That post linked to an even older post about Not-Do lists, which, since the theme this week seems to be “self-referential linkage to old posts,” I’m also going to quote and link:

I compiled and analyzed statistics all day. My life is a non-stop rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills, yes-sir-ee-bob. A colleague who is in training to be a Life Coach wouldn’t leave until I promised to do my Franklin Quest Daily Goals and Aspirations Exercise for the day. I’ve adapted it to suit my needs.

Today’s not-do list:
Antagonize people.
Accept Jesus as my savior.
Turn on office lights.
Work at desk instead of on floor.
Speak in complete sentences.
Amputate arm with dull implement.
Give up coffee.

It went well.

And now, I’ll get to the point. The Smithsonian Institution’s excellent Archives of American Art recently installed a small exhibit, “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Archives of American Art.”

The exhibit is smaller than the title.

The companion book is well donet and you can get it on Amazon. Nothing beats seeing the original documents, but the book is lots of fun if you missed the exhibit, which closes September 27th, which is very soon.

One of the items on display that amused me most was Charles Green Shaw’s list, “A few of those things we never do,” which was identified as a species of anti-to-do list. I expected to be able to easily find the item online, but am failing to do so. It was amusing in it’s banality. “Return that book, invite the Hufflepuffs to dinner, etc.”

Since I can’t find a link to that item, here’s a link to his list of varieties of drunk, which captures his sense of humor equally well.

While we were there we gamely tried to check out the Norman Rockwell exhibit, but it was very warm in the galleries and very crowded so we decided to go back on a weekday when the place will be quieter. I’ll put it back on my to-do list. The show is open until January 2nd.

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