Jacob in Mourning (detail), 1971
So, if one were to say that Barbara had genius, it was ingratiating herself with the strongest friends she could find. She knew how to follow, take advice, and when the benefit was exhausted, to move on and upwards.
Her biggest problem then came later when she was on her own in the limelight. She didn’t really know where to go. But that would be evident much later.
In the spring of 1971 she was everyone’s darling- befriended by powerful senior members in the art world’s feminist circles including Elaine’s close friend, Rose Slivka, editor of “Crafts Horizons”, and not without a certain feline allure to captivate a little spark from the men. Being in the sign of Leo she assumed it was all her due and was already drunk with the prospect of her ascension to stardom. From her throaty voice she dispensed endearments and benevolence. She was in her glory!
So everybody was just playing for time waiting for my exit while in the meantime accepting my presence as Barbara took me along with her. I believe Elaine was genuinely helpful to many young people around her, and she did her best, sending me to a number of dealers. If I could have made my first definite move to the city then something might have come of these first introductions, which included Aladar’s recent “friend” John Ashberry, the poet and former managing editor at “Art News”. I met him at his townhouse in mid-town, and over some scotch he confided to me that it might not do to send me over to Knoedler Gallery after all the young artists of modest talent that were already sent. He apologized and wished me well.
But Elaine was also a very unhappy alcoholic. At the end of her first party celebrating her newly renovated loft, once everybody had left but Barbara and I, Elaine lay down on her bed and forgetting that I was there, entered into a wailing, mournful, bitter plea for Barbara's understanding and soothing words that she was still beautiful. It was the pain of her separation from Bill de Kooning that she could not bear. It was unfortunate, because I was too much a stranger for her to ever forgive me being there and seeing her in so vulnerable a moment. When she looked up I saw it in her eyes- her anger that I saw her pain. It was a definitive look.