One of the “nightmares” of any artist or art collector is disaster scenarios where artwork could easily be damaged or even destroyed. That scenario, unfortunately, became a reality for many of the residents of New York City in October of 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck, causing extensive flooding of streets, homes and businesses, and cutting power in and around the city. Damage and debris made cleanup a slow and tedious job, meaning that some spaces were left under water and muck for weeks or even months.
An art collector living at a prestigious address on Park Avenue, just a short distance from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bought a 4 by 6-foot painting by Claudia Pettis. It was shipped from Seattle, Washington, to New York, arriving just in time to be put in temporary storage by the delivery company as Hurricane Sandy hit. The floods from the hurricane swamped the storage warehouses in this area and nothing could be delivered for months due to the upheaval around New York City – trucking and transport remained at a halt. Ms. Pettis tried but could not locate the artwork.
The piece was finally delivered in its large wooden transport box two months after hurricane Sandy. It was learned that the warehouse it was stored in was under water for days without anyone being able to get to it. Ms. Pettis shared, “The clients fully expected the artwork had been damaged so when they heard the crate containing the painting had arrived, they had it taken apart in the lobby as they expected they would be making an insurance claim. However, the entire work was in perfect condition which was unexpected to all of us! The linen, having been in a damp warehouse, was undamaged and they checked it thoroughly for mold or cracking. It was fine. What is important to me is that the stretchers did not warp either. We have no idea if it was stored on its side or upright, or in water. The new owners did test the stretchers for any warping and there was none.”
The painting used Professional Stretcher Bars from Upper Canada Stretchers and well-prepared classical oil primer on Belgian linen. The work was oil paint, charcoal and wax, in a monochrome expressive but delicate style.
The work is entitled, “Rams Chained”, referring to the custom in Scotland of chaining or roping rams together to prevent them butting heads which could result in one or the other being killed. After about three days, the chain is removed and the rams, having had to work together during that time, actually become a support for each other when released.