THE ARTISTS WHO MOVE ART
Fine art shippers make the art world move—literally. From a headline-grabbing museum show to a record-breaking auction sale or dealer purchase, the art logistical machine behind the scenes makes it all happen. ICEFAT shippers have a reputation for being the best in the business, and perhaps one of the secrets as to why this is the case is that many of those responsible for the logistics behind moving priceless artworks are artists themselves. We’re highlighting two of the talented artists who work as art handlers and logistics experts for ICEFAT companies.
Amber Stucke – Talking to Plants (Rhizome State), 2016-Present
Amber Stucke (find her on Instagram at @amberstucke) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice focuses on symbiotic and rhizomatic relationships in nature, considering humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Working with an understanding of Native American ethnobotany and visual scientific classification structures, her work stands at the intersection between art, science and imagination. Ever since an epiphanic experience at the Art Institute of Chicago when she was 14, Stucke knew her future would be in art.
She now creates pieces using sound and language, making installations, performance, embodied and “appropriated” drawings, scientific prints, and DIY artist books. Her work has been exhibited across the world, most recently with German gallery Kit Schulte. Prior to Covid-19, her last performance was a piece called Instructions for Our Love, also creating an artbook sold in aid of non-profit Paayish Neken, which safeguards the critically endangered language of the Cahuilla people.
She also is a fine art shipper. Stucke is Storage Registrar at Gander & White Shipping’s Los Angeles facility, and has been employed in fine art logistics for seven years. Her day-to-day work involves managing the movements of art collections in and out of storage and managing the liabilities of delicate pieces of art for galleries, auction houses, museums and private collectors. Stucke’s education and practice as an artist (she has an MFA from CCA in San Francisco) is relevant to this work; she says: “having knowledge and direct experience of art history, the art world and artists allows for me to approach my clients with sensitivity to costs for additional liability potentially needed along with condition reports and care of a piece for transport.” Stucke’s art practice and appreciation aids her work in facilitating the safe storage of some of LA’s top art collections.
Steve Zolin – City Rhythm
It’s a similar case for Steve Zolin (find Zolin on Instagram at @stevezolinart), an artist based in New York. Zolin uses his own “abstract language” as he works in two- and three-dimensional forms that are mostly inspired by fictive interior spaces and existing architectural forms. He is fascinated by the shape and form of New York City’s buildings and says, “the alchemy of these elements has produced some satisfying cityscape paintings and drawings that I intend to build on for as long as I can.”
Zolin is a senior art handler at New York-based SRI Fine Art Services, where he is responsible for managing the practical logistics for many leading galleries, museums, and collectors in the New York metropolitan area. His skills as an artist are often interspersed with his art handling work, and he says “being a maker can be handy when condition reporting an artwork. Understanding how an artwork is constructed can lend insight into whether a piece’s particular condition is intentional or not.”
Steve Zolin – Family Group
Zolin’s dual occupation was most visible, however, when he and SRI colleagues installed one of his own sculptural works, Family Group, in the lobby of the AC New York Times Square Hotel. He says that completion of the project “would not have been possible without SRI.” The company provided support at every step, and “supplied space to work, trucks, manpower, as well as specialized tools and expertise in order to core-drill the lobby floor for the artworks’ steel bases.” Artist and art shipper operated together perfectly to create and then to install the large three-part steel sculpture, which is now on permanent display in the hotel lobby.
In both Amber Stucke and Steve Zolin’s cases, their companies have been useful spaces for inspiration and for dialogue about art. Stucke notes that her “time spent working among other artist colleagues” has been useful for her practice. Zolin has seen that speaking to colleagues about his artistic journey helps them better understand his vision, and then some of them have even become buyers of his work! Both say that they have been privileged to have been surrounded by some amazing art during their time in fine art logistics, and that these experiences and exposures have undoubtedly fed into their own artistic practices.
These are not isolated examples. Artists can be found in many ICEFAT agents, such as New York-based Dietl International, which during the coronavirus crisis set up a website for art technicians to share and sell their artwork. More than 30 artists who work for the company now have their work displayed on the website. Artists from other ICEFAT agents such as London-based Martinspeed as well as Californian shippers Ship/Art and Cooke’s Crating have also exhibited their work on the site in previous months.
Slightly less formally, at the ICEFAT Convention held every year, we organise group art classes for attendees. The most recent, in November 2019, saw all delegates take part in a street art class. Budding artists of ICEFAT will have to wait until 2021 for another class, however, as the 2020 Convention that was meant to take place in Athens, Greece, has been postponed to next year.
We believe that appreciation of your cargo is an important part of ensuring it’s handled safely, securely, and sensitively. Artist or not, our professionalism and passion enable us to handle, transport, ship, install and store your works effectively.