(Trigger warning: home truths be here) Well, the show’s name is “Truthiness.” It’s at the Lois Lambert Gallery in Santa Monica, in L.A. My name is on the marquee, so to speak, along with twenty or more artists, and the thing will run until sometime in November. Truthiness is a word that’s been around since the nineteenth century, but a west coast hate night, I mean late night, talk show host claims he made it up. “I pulled it out of my keister,” he said. A lot of his material seems to emanate from that source, but I digress.
I was asked to have my piece at the gallery by September 4th and shipped it on August 29th. After crating it in half-inch plywood, with two-by-four cleats to hold it firmly in place, the Hilliard Gallery in KC shipped it. To damage the piece you’d have to work at it. Maybe toss it off a tall building. Or a moving UPS truck. The piece was bubble-wrapped inside all the armour, and we felt good about its chances. We underestimated United Parcel Service’s evil genius.
We knew it might be late, even though they told us it would arrive on the 4th. But we were way off on our lowered expectations. How’s never? It’s like the fine print said, “Is never good for you?” Because that’s when it got there.
I had requested step-of-the-way tracking, and began to get odd messages well after the 4th had come and gone. The first one said the trailer had been rerouted and/or late in leaving the warehouse. That came up a couple of times. Then the message began to deteriorate into language like “Exception on your delivery.” There was no explanation so I called and that was said to mean anything from “misplaced” to “don’t know.” Or truthiness from the UPS playbook which probably says “Money coming in, okay, money going out, bad. Admit nothing.”
Then the messages changed to “Refused at delivery point.” A baldfaced (boldfaced?) lie. They had lapsed into political-speak. I’m not sure but I think Congress has a lower trust level than UPS in the last poll. It was not refused at the Lambert Gallery.
After days of this kind of slippery stuff, they seemed to admit they had lost it. But they also held on to “refused” as a safer place for them to report from.
Then, believe it or not they used “Exception” again as a fallback and stuck to that awhile. Then two sources said it was shipped back to KC because it was (A) refused and/or (B) damaged.
This was the first we’d heard that it was damaged. It arrived back in KC where they tried to charge shipping (again) but Bob from the Hilliard Gallery went to their KCK shipping point and removed the screws from the top. The crate had been shrink wrapped by them and that was a bit suspicious, even though they tried to explain it had gone out that way. Truthiness. Inside, it was loose. There was the sound of tinkling glass, The cleats were torqued and moved. Perhaps a D9 Caterpillar had run over it—or maybe the 85 lb. crate had been dropped on concrete from a trailer or forklift.
The same delivery person who’d written “refused” owned up to dropping off (poor choice of words?) several packages to the gallery on the day of...refusal. No signature from the refusee. Because, well, there was no opportunity to refuse it.
I still don’t have the package because it’s tied up in “paperwork” and claims. If I can repair it it will go back out to Los Angeles on a slow freight shipper I’ve used before. MoveIt.com successfully blanket-wrapped and palletized a dozen larger pieces for me for a solo show out there. And never once resorted to Truthiness. Maybe it will get there before the two-month show is over. Maybe not. By the way, click here for a look at the piece in question. The box to the right is a Seth Thomas clock on the other side, with a glass door. Uh, used to have a glass door.