Bat Eats Plastic (Dave McClelland, on the far right, is an art handler.)
"Working Class Heroes?" NYArts Magazine Vol.8N.5 (May 2003) pg. 66.
It's taken me 4 years but I've finally come to terms with it. Being an art
handler that is. I used to hate it so much. Art school conditioned me to think that I
was worth more in the world with an MFA than simply moving things for a living.
Yea right. MFA's are dime a dozen in New York. Whatever... Art handling
has been my job on and off since I got out of SVA in 1999. It's a routine now.
Every evening we call the "Love line" (I guess it's called that because we
'love' to know when we're supposed to be at work the next day) listen for the
recording telling when everyone is supposed to be at Headquarters. I show up
at the given time, grab a clip board with a stack of way bills on it and get to the
business of making sure the art world has it's objects in the right place at the
It sucks because we often have to lift really heavy crates and large paintings
up and down small service stairways and halls. It makes my arms heavy and my
back sore. And there are days when I want to scream at over-anxious customers who
say "Careful"."Careful with that", "Will you please be careful with that".Ughhh.
Like I'm some kind of brainless lug whose every move is destined for disaster.
The worst though is when a client is nice to us to our faces then natters to the office
about what we did that they didn't like. It invites our boss to think we're fuck ups.
We have no idea what we've done wrong when be yells at us about it.
It's not all bad though. Some clients are really cool. They buy us lunch, tip
us and ask us our opinions about where the art should go. It gets us into some of
the most exclusive places art lives. It's encouraging to see that in person. Also
when we leave a client's house or business we can act however we want.
Sometimes we act like monkeys on speed and crank the radio as loud as we can.
Sometimes we just cool out and have the best conversations about art and politics.
I learn a lot that way. As long as the boss knows where we are, where we're going
next and we're on time everything is cool. Not to mention we're free from offices.
I can speak for all of us in the Crozier Fine Arts trucking department when
I say that we'd like to be doing something better. Better meaning showing this work
or performing in our bands as our main occupation. But until (insert big time gallery
name here) or (Insert big time record label name here) gives us the call about that
studio visit that includes the exclusive representation deal and big money sales
checks pouring in by the pound we'll keep working at Crozier.