Border crossings

I drove to Montréal last week to show some of my stickers to Elise Luong at Fresh Paint Gallery.  They’ll be shown there in December along with some of Oli’s stickers from Hatch Kingdom – everything Oli, Nada, and I (and my students!) presented at SLU in the fall of 2010, plus some new framed stickers that I’m putting together on oil consumption (see previous post), the economy, as well as stickers from the 2008 Presidential election that I haven’t shown before and other miscellaneous stickers from 2010-2011 to bring the exhibition up to date.  Crossing the border into Canada wasn’t as easy as I had been lead to believe.  US customs folks had told me beforehand I wouldn’t need any sort of paperwork for this day trip since I wasn’t leaving anything in the country, and since nothing was for sale.  Instead, Canadian customs in Cornwall, ON, pulled me in to talk with an agent, and I had to open the back of my car and show him and another agent my portfolios of stickerboards.  It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was an interesting experience with authority that left me feeling somewhat cowed.  One portfolio happened to open to a sheet of German stickers with people throwing Molotov cocktails at the police, which was unfortunate, and caused the two agents to call over a third.  They all wore white gloves to inspect my goods, and one said, “I’m not touching those.”  Yipes.  I showed them many examples of stickers and luckily, the exhibition text panel from 2010 was in one of the portfolios.  One agent read it and said aloud “student film, okay” and that seemed to be the end of the inspection.  I was legit!

Later that week, I started to do some serious research on transporting items across the border.  I’ve rented a U-Haul and plan to bring 52 framed pieces to Montréal next Tuesday.  One Web site suggested I register for an importer/exporter account, which I did by calling a 1-800 number.  I asked what the importer/exporter account registration was good for, and the woman on the line said it was a post-9/11 homeland security measure.  It seemed kind of odd that I could apply for this thing without showing any ID or seeing anyone in person, but I gave my name and address and for what it’s worth now have an account.

Today I went back to the customs offices at Ogdensburg, NY, and Prescott, ON, to double-check that I have everything in order to transport next week.  It seems one can fill out a simple US form, and with my account number, cross over to Canada and take the chance that everything will go smoothly with CBSA.

Or, one can go through an international customs broker, which is what I have decided to do.  I’m working with Strader-Ferris, and the CA customs agent today assured this was the best way to handle the transport.  I don’t want anything to go wrong with this precious cargo!

The sticker exhibition at Fresh Paint is part of a much larger show they’re presenting called Arab Winter, “a multi-media, multi-disciplinary event with musicians, painters, calligraphists, graffiti artists and short films.”  I have about 800 square feet on the second floor of a gorgeous building at 180 St. Catherine Street East.  I plan to line the walls with scrap chain link fence gates that I scrounged behind SLU’s Physical Plant and will hang the framed artworks on the gates to give the show a sort of urban gritty feel.  Carole, Arline, Ray, and I will try to get it all done on Wednesday.  NP!  I hope!  Pics to follow….