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   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
  new painting and conversations with dhl

A box containing panels from the painting above (Ramble #2, 60"x36") and from Border (posted a few days ago) have gone missing on their way to Santa Fe over the past week. Tracking data simply ended last Monday, with the information that the package had passed through the DHL hub in Minneapolis.

This means that two paintings intended for my upcoming show are in jeopardy...I'm bouncing around between anxiety and the aforementioned "que sera, sera" attitude, with "wait and see" as my default mode. I'm also (reasonably I think) contemplating which two paintings that are still in my studio might be finished up in time to replace these two in my exhibit (which opens July 11th.)

Of course, I've been calling DHL, trying to figure out where my box has gone and how to get it back on track. One thing I know from prior experience, though, is that each DHL employee exists in his or her own little world, and almost for sure you will get a completely different and contradictory story from each one when you call about anything.

My disjointed conversation with DHL started on Saturday, when I realized that the tracking data had gone dead. I phoned (using www.gethuman techniques--wonderful when you just don't want to listen to voicemail prompts!) and was told by a very businesslike person that a "dock search" would be put on my crate, and that I would be contacted on Monday with results. This resulted in disturbing mental pictures of my box sitting abandoned in some dark warehouse corner, perhaps with the shipping label torn or missing, and half-hearted dock workers missing it in some cursory glance around. But she sounded efficient and seemed to imply that this happens all the time, don't worry.

On Monday, after waiting impatiently until noon, I called again. This time the man I talked to was extremely reassuring. He said that the box was almost for sure not abandoned on a dock, but was on a truck going...somewhere. The wrong truck. But as soon as the mistake was discovered, the box would be sent to its correct destination. I liked this guy a lot, not only because he had a great theory about my box, but because when he found out it contained paintings, told me all about a friend of his in Texas who paints in the style of "that old hippie stuff, what do you call that?" (me--psychedelic?..him--yeah, that's it!)I felt that I was conversing with a concerned human being, and it lifted my spirits quite a bit.

Then a few hours later, someone else called me as a follow up to the dock search. This person quizzed me at length about what was in my box. Apparently if the shipping information had gotten detached from the box, it might be opened up for identification. I told her it contained paintings. She wanted to know what kind of paintings--portraits, or what?? I said, no, they are abstract paintings. Silence on the other end. I fumbled around for words a bit and finally said (feeling like a traitor to my art form) that if someone opened up the box, what they would see are just some wood panels with paint on them. I could practically hear her roll her eyes. (As in, OK lady, whatever you say. But they're not really so important, these pieces of wood with paint on them, are they?) I decided not to pursue this lesson in abstraction, and we went on to other questions about the size of the box and whatnot. This conversation left me quite unsettled--because it was Monday, after all, and I thought I'd have an answer, and instead I was just getting more questions.

So that's where it stands. I'm rooting for the "on the wrong truck" theory. And wondering why I ship with DHL. (Although to be fair, I've used them many times before, and this is the first time they have actually lost something, if only temporarily--knock on wood!)
Why didn't you use a fine arts shipper?
Hi Rebecca. I am a Boston area painter and regularly ship out to Santa Fe myself. I have always had good luck with FedEx. I, however, do my own packing and my work is smaller than yours. FedEx seems to be very reliable and their tracking is always on target. I hope all is recovered and I wish you the best. Debra
Thanks, yes I will look into Fed Ex or some other shipper. Where I live it is kind of remote, but just last night a friend told me about an art shipper in Minneapolis (the closest city to me, but still at a distance) that might sometimes go to Santa Fe, so I will check into that.

The good news is that DHL called to say they have a box in their Lost and Found that I am hopeful is mine...I just emailed photos of the lost paintings and they will be getting back to me soon.
I hope that box is yours! I just had UPS delay an important package due to "inclement weather", with no updates for two days. Shipping is such a pain!
Your first comment referred to using a fine art shipper... these can be hard to find but my New Orleans gallery knew of and I became a regular client... this was when I was also shipping to Santa Fe frequently. This guy actually picked up from my home! Prices was comparable in this case. Then we moved and I was unable to locate the same quality service... I think this had a lot to do with my move to narrow my range of galleries to within driving distance... or maybe it was just time to cut the headaches of shipping. I hope they find your box... whole and undamaged and in time for your show.

I am personally angry at DHL on your behalf.

I am anxious to hear whether you see your box again soon.

A follow up...as of today, 7/17, the box still has not been located. The gallery has gotten involved and has let DHL know the value of its contents, which is perhaps helpful. I'm still holding out some hope!
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       Rebecca Crowell