One-Upping Diane ArbusWednesday, July 21, 2010
For many of the years that I exhibited my photographs in local galleries I experience the Diane Arbus Effect. It seems that so sometime in July 1971 Diane Arbus immersed herself in a tub and with the help of pills and a razor committed suicide. One of the versions recounts that she had a bout of depression after a show.
I felt the same kind of depression after a show. Usually the opening would happen on a Thursday or Friday and by Saturday when no work had been sold (and the world had not changed) I felt what perhaps Arbus had felt that day in her tub. But I soon found that I one-upped Arbus by feeling depressed even before the show opened. I called it the pre-post show depression.
For me the best moment of a show happened seconds after all the work was up on the wall. From then on it was a downwards spiral. I would invite some good friends to come. One who never came to any of my shows told me, “I had to cook for my daughter.” To make matters worse there were those who I had invited who I would run into days later and would ask me, “Alex, how was the show?” I would answer something like, “It was very successful. Many people showed up.” And then I would think an obscenity I never did blurt out.
Something similar happens when I travel without my wife Rosemary. Today she insisted we go to town to buy me new socks to take on my trip to Austin. She has laid my stuff out by my suitcase and is going o press the shirts I am taking. I have to take a few long-sleeved shirts to protect me from the sun of South Texas. She has purchased bottles of maple syrup to take as gifts.
I find that I feel a melancholy and a sadness. I miss her already even though I have not left. I should be excited (and I am) about the trip but I still feel I am being overcome by this sadnes. I guess that is normal when you have been married for 42 years.