Artist Steve DeFrank and husband Louis were not allowed to marry at the time that I began STATE OF THE UNION. Like most of my gay couple friends, they still referred to themselves as husbands and from all appearances lived as a married couple.
Steve’s work as an artist references pop culture, cartoons, graffiti and the media to explore ideas about perception, play, fine art and craft. His paintings, works on paper, and his signature Lite-Brite compositions, like the one he did of his parents below, are widely collected by individuals and museums.
Steve lives in New York City, so we knew that whatever work he was going to do for this project it was going to need to be mailed. Never did I expect him to use the mail as part of his project.
For STATE OF THE UNION, Steve sent me a painting of a box. The painting, acrylic on wood panel, was the box itself, and he painted my address onto it’s surface as well as his return address, and then instructed the post office to attach the postage and other stickers directly onto the surface of the painting. It was then shipped to me. [For the purpose of this blog and for safety reasons, I have either obscured, or retouched the images below to remove our addresses.]
In the U.S. there is something known in law as the mailbox rule. It also goes by the names of posting rule, postal rule, or the deposited acceptance rule. It is an exception to the general rule of contract law that acceptance takes place when communicated. The mailbox rule states that acceptance takes effect when a letter, or other object, is posted [dropped in a mailbox] or handed to a postal worker. Meaning that the acceptance is treated as legally effective at the exact moment it is sent via post by the offeree, rather than when it is received by the offeror.
I assume that this also applies to today’s email, as I know that I received an email from our mediator’s office after we had signed our divorce papers that read:
“Now that you both have signed all of the documents, are you ready for us to send them to Court? I will hold onto them until I get confirmation from both of you.”
To date, I have 152 emails in the “Divorce” folder in my email account. I say to date, because once a divorce is signed, sealed and delivered, it is not necessarily over, especially when you share children.
Steve Defrank took an object and sent it across the country. What arrived was a bit battered, a bit bruised, dirty and labeled, but beautiful, meaningful and intact, just the same.