By: Todd M. Casey
I recently had the honor of painting a commission for Rehs Contemporary. Commissions are always fun because I work directly with clients to help work out their ideas. Once the painting is completed, it is varnished and set aside to dry before shipping.
Shipping a painting is always a bit stressful. You have to pack your artwork correctly to arrive in perfect condition. Then comes the big decision, who to use for shipping. Once it is shipped off, you hope it will find its way to its destination as quickly and safely as possible. Sadly, sometimes things do not go the way you expected.
So, I packed up my painting and took it 200 yards to the post office. I even printed out the label and taped it to the box to make it super clear. The painting was supposed to travel roughly 60 miles southwest from Connecticut to Midtown Manhattan (Rehs Contemporary). I decided to send the package Priority Mail because the clerk said it would take one day and only cost $7.70. It was Monday, and it needed to get to the gallery by Thursday so the photographer could snap a photo of it. It was Monday, so I figured, plenty of time!
I took my receipt home and emailed the tracking number to the gallery. I checked the tracking on Tuesday and saw that the package was in New Jersey, which seemed odd because you must go through NYC to get to New Jersey.
On Tuesday around 4 pm, I called the gallery to see if the painting had arrived, but sadly it had not. I thought, so strange for making it in 1 day.
When I woke up and checked the tracking, the following day, I found out the painting was in Honolulu, Hawaii, at a distribution center. I did a double-take and checked to make sure I typed in the correct tracking number. Hawaii? Honolulu is roughly 5,000 miles west of Connecticut.
On Thursday, I called the post office to find out why the package was in Hawaii, the furthest state from its destination possible. The woman chuckled and stated that there was nothing she could do. Priority mail has 3-5 days to make it to its destination, so please call back if it is not arrived by Saturday.
When Friday rolled around, I saw the package was in transit, and by the end of the night, it was at the New York distribution center. On Saturday, they attempted delivery, but the gallery was closed. On Monday, it was signed for by the doorman at 5 East 57th street in NYC.
I have no idea why the package went to Hawaii, and I cannot imagine that this was an efficient way for the Post Office to send it. The moral of the story is to make sure your artwork is properly packed since it may take a longer-than-expected trip.
I was a letter carrier for the USPS for a year of my life, so I have a lot of respect for the postal service (my dad was a carrier for about 27 years and retired in 2003). Oh, in case you were wondering if letter carriers getting bit by dogs is real, I got bit by a German Sheppard my first month on the job.