Metaphors were mixed, tales of triumph told, and everyone walked away with their eyes a little wider. It could mean only one thing.
The Art Guys paid a visit to the University of Houston on Wednesday, September 11th, as Special Collections hosted “Archiving the Art Guys: A Conversation with the Art Community.” Moderated by Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections, Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing (their lesser-known monikers) tackled a wide range of topics covering their early days at UH and genesis of their unique brand, the challenges and rewards of creative dialogue and collaboration, as well as the role of the artist in contemporary society.
Described by the New York Times as “a cross between Dada, David Letterman, John Cage and the Smothers Brothers,” Galbreth and Massing met while attending UH and, in one famous handshake, forged a partnership that continues to challenge the manner in which we view the world and gives voice to a contrarian song in the din and echo of consenting choruses. Students at UH may know them best for the cryptic “Statue of Four Lies” near Cougar Village, but veterans of the art scene in Houston and abroad know The Art Guys for producing decades of irreverent art, redefining the term and concept with each work. Fortunately for present and future researchers, they have also kept a meticulous account of it through the years.
The Art Guys recently donated their records to UH and naturally last week’s conversation turned to speculation regarding possible uses of the materials for future research. A consensus seemed to emerge that, aside from the more obvious lines of artistic study and survey of art history in Houston, there are likely answers in these materials to questions not yet posited. Fueling further excitement was the reminder that this is a living collection. The Art Guys after all continue to survive, thrive, and, thankfully, challenge the way we view the world–a view promising to be expanded as the collection itself grows over the years.
We thank The Art Guys and all who attended last week. My eyes, for one, were certainly wider walking out. The Art Guys Records are currently being processed, but we will be sure to announce when they are available for study. In the meantime, learn more about The Art Guys by visiting their website and reading up on the ongoing events commemorating their 30 year anniversary.