Bipoloarism Makes Business Dealings Hard
By Hall Groat Sr.
Donald was very bright although when he experienced his severe mood swings was very difficult to deal with. He was a gallery owner in a very good location and sales were brisk. He was well read and knew how to run the gallery. He and his wife Ann ran one of the most charming galleries in New England and she had to work around his mood swings. They handled the paintings of the famous Norman Rockwell who lived in nearby Stockbridge, MA. Just before I was invited to show at his Tyringham Gallery, he had dropped Rockwell from the gallery—referring to him as too commercial and out of place in his gallery. Rockwell was at the height of his career and a great draw who`s name alone could bring in thousands of customers from New York City and many European countries. Donald personally told me how he kicked Rockwell out one day. This was one of the most stupid decisions an art dealer could make in this great tourist area of Tanglewood. I realized there was something radically wrong with Donald.
While delivering my paintings to the gallery for a summer season, it became apparent he was losing control of his emotions. He would insult customers and became increasingly cold and aloof. His wife Ann always worked hard to soft soap the gallery customers as not to alienate them. She was a charming woman who held things together.
One summer I was delivering new work. It was a routine I had been doing for over forty years. He came storming out to his gallery parking area, and flew into a rage —yelling, “Get this crap outta here!” It was a shock to me after being affiliated with his gallery for so many years. After a four hour drive from Manlius to Tyringham MA. I was bewildered. Donald went back into his gallery with no goodbyes. As I was preparing for my return home a couple from New York City pulled up beside my car and asked to see my new work. They were in the process of buying a large work from me when Donald came storming out yelling “Oh no you don`t— make that check out to the gallery— you`re on my property” The sale immediately evaporated. Donald`s mood swing made it impossible to do business with him. A year later his wife called me and begged me to return. Donald`s mood had temporarily returned to normal. Ann informed me her husband was bipolar. I can imagine how Norman Rockwell must have felt also. Donald passed away in a few years and I stayed with the gallery until Ann Davis retired. Somehow, I wish people were more open about being Bipolar, although many are unaware of their own condition. It certainly makes it hard to deal with in the business world.