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A Tribute to Michael Galbreth

In the News, Performing & Visual Arts

We at UH Special Collections pay tribute to Michael Galbreth (1956 – 2019), whom we have had the enormous pleasure of working with and getting to know. Galbreth and the other half of the Art Guys, Jack Massing, donated their archives to Special Collections in 2013. And just over a year ago, Galbreth donated the New Music America Collection. Galbreth organized the 1986 NMA festival in Houston and served as president of its governing board, the New Music Alliance, from 1986 to 1989. A finding aid is available for this collection.

Through photographs of materials that Galbreth has donated to UH Special Collections–particularly from the recently acquired New Music America Collection–we aim to highlight the stories that they tell. A number of institutions and individuals have also commemorated the importance of Galbreth’s life to Houston and the art community, including:

Michael Galbreth (1956 – 2019)

Among the approximately 84 boxes (and over a terabyte of electronic files) that make up The Art Guys Records are materials documenting the creation of The Statue of Four Lies, part of the UH Public Art collection. This selection of items shows an early mockup of the plaza where the statue is installed in Lynn Eusan Park. Other items include the proposal for the statue and a flyer and invitation to its unveiling.

These items from the New Music America Collection document a parade with the Irreversible Marching Band led by musician Tom Cora during the 1986 NMA Festival held in Houston in 1986. Included are a flyer advertising the parade, which happened on April 5, 1986, and a two-page letter to Galbreth (one page on the back of a tour schedule for Cora’s band Skeleton Crew). In the letter, Cora writes: “Did you see the parade? The marching band was somewhat of a rag-tag unit, to be sure; but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the experience. What my Houston musicians lacked in musical skills and experience, they certainly made up for in enthusiasm and hard work.”

The 1986 New Music America parade culminated at the grand opening of the Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, where John Cage performed. Included in this image are a program of the NMA event for Cage’s “Ryoanji” and two photographs, one of Cage and the musicians who performed with him that day and another of soprano Isabelle Ganz in front of Cage’s score.

Among the Houston NMA events was Astrosounds, an experimental music concert inside the Astrodome that included a performance in which Russell Frehling launched a blimp equipped with a microphone, monitoring radio waves and feedback patterns in the space. Pictured here are a program, news clippings, and a photograph of Galbreth in the Astrodome on the day of the performance.

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