Norm Diamond: Doug’s Gym
“Doug’s Gym is a love story. It is an arrow to the heart.”
– Cig Harvey, Photographer
It’s always fascinating how photographers find their projects and where the internal motivation for their focus is culled from. Photographer Norm Diamond comes to photography after four decades considering mortality as a interventional radiologist. This remarkable perspective of facing death and loss is reflected in themes that continue to interest him, but most importantly, Norm has a profound understanding of the human experience and the transience of person and a place.
Norm’s recent series, Doug’s Gym — The Last of Its Kind, is now a book, published by Kehrer Verlag with an essay by Roy Flukinger. The book is available on his site in addition to three limited edition 8 x 10 inch prints as well as official Doug’s Gym tee shirts. The book will not be available elsewhere in the US until February 2020. Norm will also have a solo exhibition at The Afterimage Gallery in Dallas that will run from Feb. 28 through April 30, 2020.
After a long career as an interventional radiologist in Dallas, Texas, Norm Diamond transformed his love of photography into a second career. He studied with many noted teachers including Debbie Fleming Caffery, Arno Minkkinen, Keith Carter, Aline Smithson, Sean Kernan and Susan Bernstein. Since 2013, Cig Harvey has mentored him.
Diamond was named a finalist in the Photolucida Critical Mass competitions of 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019.
His current project, Doug’s Gym, began in 2017, when he wandered into this iconic gym on Commerce Street in Dallas. The dilapidated, yet somehow beautiful appearance of the gym intrigued him as did its octogenarian owner, Doug Eidd (as in hide), whom he describes as a character from another era. Diamond recognized his familiar themes of memory, loss, and mortality. He joined the gym and photographed there until its untimely closure in 2018. Kehrer Verlag has published Doug’s Gym with current release in Europe and scheduled release in the US in February 2020.
Prior to Doug’s Gym, Diamond spent over a year visiting hundreds of Dallas estate sales photographing the sadness, irony, and humor he found in the possessions left by one generation to the next. In 2017, Daylight Books published What Is Left Behind – Stories from Estate Sales. Prints from this series have been exhibited in multiple group and solo shows and are in the hands of many private collectors.
The Afterimage Gallery in Dallas represents Diamond and will host a solo exhibition of his Doug’s Gym work in February 2020.
Doug’s Gym — The Last of Its Kind
On my first trip to Doug’s Gym in downtown Dallas, I climbed a sagging wooden staircase to find a rundown old gym with peeling paint, sagging tin ceiling, and ancient equipment. It was dilapidated to the point of beauty. I had avoided gyms for most of my life, but I joined this one for its themes of memory, loss, and mortality, which have preoccupied me in my photography.
Doug Eidd, (as in “hide”), eighty-seven years old at the time, owned and managed the gym since it opened in 1962. He worked ten-hour days, six days a week, running the gym and training members who sought out his considerable expertise. In his heyday he worked with professional boxers and bodybuilders, but in recent years, people of all backgrounds and body shapes joined the gym for its unpretentious atmosphere.
Besides giving advice on exercises, Doug smoked cigars all day, ate herring from a tin can at lunchtime, and discussed his theories on the decline of the world order to anyone who would listen. He was a character from another era.
Facing increased rent and declining health, Doug reluctantly closed the gym on short notice in the spring of 2018. I returned every day for several weeks as the gym was dismantled and its pieces hauled away. On the very last day Doug, who had spent most of his life in this gym, turned out the old fluorescent lights and turned over the key to the landlord. I always knew Doug’s Gym was a time capsule waiting to be buried. The time had finally come.
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