Here's What the Art Guys Should Do Next

The Art Guys have spent the past year celebrating their 30-year-long collaboration. Here are five suggestions for their next project.

By Michael Hardy November 11, 2013

All year, the Art Guys (Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing), Houston’s favorite performance artists, have been staging public events to commemorate their 30-year-long collaboration. They have walked the length of Little York Road, the longest street in Houston; shaken hands with random Houstonians in the Houston tunnel system; told jokes for eight hours; and, this past weekend, driven around the I-610 loop for 24 straight hours, 12 hours in one direction and 12 hours in the other. But with the year coming to an end, we thought the Art Guys might be looking for new projects. Fortunately, we at Houstonia have a few suggestions:

The Art Guys Tear Down the Astrodome

Last week, Houstonians rejected a referendum to turn the Astrodome into a convention and event center, apparently sealing the superannuated stadium’s fate. Discussion now centers on demolishing the dome and turning the land into a park built around a giant retention pond. (Or “detention pond,” as CultureMap’s Eric Sandler would have it). Who better than two artists to oversee the demolition of what many supporters have called a work of art? If Dan Havel and Dean Ruck could turn a condemned house into the celebrated “Inversion” sculpture back in 2005, imagine what Galbreth and Massing could do with an entire freakin’ stadium.

The Art Guys Recruit Matt Schaub

Ever since Case Keenum stole his job, Matt Schaub has been cooling his heels on the sideline, gamely giving Keenum advice while pretending to the media that it’s all no big deal. Since it doesn’t look like he’ll be the Texans’ starting quarterback again anytime soon, why not start looking into alternative careers? If there was any doubt before, the first six games of the season confirmed that football isn’t really, you know, his forte. Fortunately, there’s always room in the art world for dropouts, misfits, and ne’er-do-wells. Maybe the corporate structure of the NFL was cramping Schaub’s style. Maybe he wants to be his own boss rather than taking orders from Gary Kubiak. Either way, Galbreth and Massing should take a serious look at this under-the-radar prospect. Who ever said there could only be two art guys? 

The Art Guys Marry Devon Britt-Darby

In 2009, the Art Guys sparked their biggest controversy to date by pretending to marry a tree in a ceremony in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Admittedly, their timing was poor: it was nearly a year to the day since California had passed Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage in the state. Houston Chronicle art critic Douglass Britt (who now goes by Devon Britt-Darby), excoriated the performance for apparently reinforcing the risible “slippery slope” argument that allowing gays to marry will eventually lead to people marrying animals or inanimate objects. Britt, who is gay, eventually staged his own piece of performance art in which he married a woman, Reese Darby. In the end, Britt resigned from the Chronicle (he’s now the visual arts editor at Arts and Culture Texas) and the Menil Collection removed the tree from its grounds, where it had temporarily resided. We see only one solution to this painful schism: the Art Guys must marry Devon Britt-Darby. After all, Britt-Darby is now single again, having divorced his wife six months after their marriage. Yes, the Art Guys are married, but that didn’t stop them from marrying a tree, now, did it? And in Texas, gay marriage is just as illegal as plant marriage.

The Art Guys Swap Identities

After spending 30 years as collaborators, the Art Guys know each other pretty well. But as the saying goes, you have to walk a mile in the other man’s logo-emblazoned suit to really understand him. So we propose that Galbreth and Massing trade identities for a week, living in each other’s house, sleeping in each other’s bed, and being married to each other’s wife. Surely Massing has always wondered what it’s like to be “the tall one,” and Galbreth what it’s like to be “the short one.” Here’s a chance to find out! 

The Art Guys Publish an Issue of Houstonia

Let’s face it: publishing a magazine is tough. You have to write articles, design pages, come up with an eye-catching cover, and sell ads to cover the cost of all of the above. If the Art Guys can spend eight hours signing their names, they can certainly spend eight hours cranking out magazine copy. And with their many corporate connections (Memorial City Mall sponsored their recent circumnavigation of the I-610 loop), they should have no trouble selling advertisements. After all the good press they’ve received from the Houston media over the years, publishing an issue of Houstonia is really the least that Galbreth and Massing could do. 

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