Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saga of a Shipwreck #43

I have always maintained that the art business is one crazy, illogical, crap shoot of a career.  Today, I have even more proof. If common sense and common courtesy were still in fashion, perhaps the exhibition biz would be a better place. [This was originally written on Sept 15th and will be status updated using these nifty brackets!] I hope you remember your elementary school story problems.

Follow along as I explain the “what happened” (W) followed by the “right thing to do”. (R)

(W) JK gets into a National Show, which I have experience with so I know the drill of sending in timely paperwork, proper packing and on-time shipping. JK sends the selected piece 8 days before the final deadline and 3 days before the first day of acceptance. The piece is only going three states away so it is a 2-day shipping situation using my usual custom container that has traveled more miles than I probably ever will. In 15 years I have never had trouble with my shipping company. With a 100% on time record, I have had no reason to check each and every time I ship. I did not follow up on this one which is my mistake in assuming (yeah yeah I know…) that the record would remain intact.

(W) Today [9/15], a full week after the drop dead deadline has come and gone, I get an email saying my piece is not there and noted that your painting, ------------, was not shipped or hand-delivered. If you shipped it, it did not arrive at the-----------, so we suggest tracking your shipment”. 

(R) I should have been notified that it was not there by the deadline date or at least the day after because wouldn’t you think somebody should have been keeping track of all the pieces due from all over the country? [I accept 50% of the blame for not checking the status myself.]

 (W) “But since the exhibit is already hung, your piece will not be included. An unfortunate situation. This means you did not qualify as one of the participating artists in ----------National Juried Exhibition. Even though you were juried in by-------, our Judge of Selections, by failing to produce your selected painting, this forfeits you from claiming you exhibited in our show. “ 

(R) I understand that I am not part of the physical show, but to be penalized that I cannot even be considered having been included?  In this day and age of instant communications, one would think that a simple phone call or email at deadline time would have allowed me to check up on my work. I trusted the recipient organization to let me know if something was wrong, especially when we had to include another $40 check for “handling” charges by their committee.  One would think the committee would be on the lookout for the extra money. [I accept 50% of the blame for not checking the status myself.]

(W) I contacted my shipping agent and blasted through the automated stuff with some inappropriate level of vocal responses. The poor girl will probably be hitting her first cocktail by now because I did not make her day any easier. Not only have I lost my work, my shipping container and the funds inside it with account numbers and personal ID, but also the right to claim to be in a show and a chance at the substantial amount of prize money.  

(R) The show opens tomorrow [9/15], but the reception and awards, when people actually show up to see it after all, is still 8 days away. So if the piece arrives could you just find a spot in the hallway or outside the restroom or something?

(R) Giving credit to my shipping agent, a day after the trace order was assigned; I got a very nice phone call from my “case worker” who works in the lost art department. Must be a lot of lost art to have its own department but he gave me a 24 hour phone number for updates. Then I leave for college move in activities with my piece now missing 13 days. [5 more days pass and I get a call while standing in the middle of a museum ….my art and case have been found! Utah.]  Took a bit of back and forth to verify who I was and that the stuff was mine even though a completely filled out label for return was on the inside. So at MY expense….the wayward art is on its way home via the scenic overland route from the far west. I declined to have it sent on to the original point of destination as they were going to send it back anyway because it was “late”.  There are still good people out there who did not give up looking for one lost box. Yes, it was insured, but I told my caseworker it was not about the money, I wanted my work back because it is like a child to me, money could not replace it. They only look for one week then let you file paperwork. I said, no, keep looking…..and they did.  Fed-Ex Ground….you did the right thing and I thank you!!  Evidently Utah is the Emerald City of undeliverable/lost/misplaced/wayward stuff.

Now all the drivers of the company trucks can take my photo off of their visors as I am no longer the crazy lady trying to peer into their trailers. I cannot even begin to imagine how the parent of a missing child feels….this was only a drawing and a case and it has been a roller coaster of emotion. [Of course dropping the last child off at college and driving away could have something to do with it.]

And don’t even get me started about the company that shipped two orders in one box but charged me shipping on both orders as they were placed 3 days apart. Remember those elementary school story problems about apples and oranges? Well, try explaining that logic to someone named “Peggy”!!!

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