That was a line from a film Peggy and I watched about 30 years ago. Somebody cared enough to paint a picture of a guild worker in the late renaissance. The movie was about a battalion of infantry troops who come upon a deserted house during the Battle of the Bulge. One soldier was transfixed by this painting in the attic. As I recall he repeats that line several times, Somebody cared.
In turn Peggy was struck by the image of that infantryman who took time off from war to study the image of the man. This was a Peggy moment. Transcendence from the darkness, from the business of killing and Peggy cared that the soldier cared.
I just now read a synopsis of the film on Wikipedia and no mention is made of that scene where the soldier stops to stare at the art work. In fact, he is depicted as being mentally unstable. But that’s all right. One takes what one wants from a narrative. The story is about a truce that goes awry between young German soldiers and the Americans. The film is entitled, A Midnight Clear.
Peggy researched that painting, found it and constructed one of her boxes with the repeated face of the man as if declaring her kinship with that soldier. To be an artist is to inhabit a state of otherness which society deems as unstable or possibly subversive.
Going through boxes and files which Peggy kept over seven decades. I keep discovering quirky, beautiful, historical, ephemera. I keep discovering Peggy. How she retained old postcards, some of them from the 19th century, others from friends sent in their travels or just because they knew she would love the image. She also kept business cards, hundreds of them for their artwork or for the memory of the particular restaurant or gallery. They were not just dumped in a box; each was inserted in its own plastic space, ten to a page. To save is to care.
We are a culture of consumers. We are good at it. Try finding a parking place at Costco. We pick and choose and discard. Landfills and the ocean would testify.
Peggy’s appetite for life was of a different order. She didn’t gather things for their utility but for their essence. These cards and other papers I am finding have no secondary market, no value at all except aesthetic or how they registered in her memory vault. They delighted her and maybe launched a poem. They were her way of honoring the past and implicit in that is the wish that the object would find a home in the future. The very act of preserving, of caring brings her into this room. A price beyond currency.