Artist duo presents career history

Zachary Keener

On Monday, a presentation by The Art Guys, a duo of artists, involved a guitarist and a man in a dragon suit blowing party horns out of its nose.

The group is comprised of artists Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, known for their eccentric art, which uses a variety of mediums.

“I wasn’t sure if they brought the dragon or if the dragon was here to help them,” psychology freshman Katie Kei said. “It kind of made other people laugh, so I felt like it’s kind of rude because they’re presenting — unless it was part of the presentation.”

Massing said the goal of their art is to change people’s traditional perspectives about what art can be.

“We share this belief: If you can change perception in someone, you actually change the world,” said Massing. “So if we can change the perception of a person or of people or a group of people or a society … we as artists have changed the world. There’s nothing more powerful than that.”

Galbreth said the reason they chose to involve the additional entertainers in their event was to help keep people interested.

“It’s a nontraditional way of doing it,” Galbreth said. “We don’t do it very often … . It’s sort of like a non sequitur. It’s just, if you’re making a collage and you put something in there that doesn’t belong there, it makes it interesting.”

One of the group’s earliest pieces involved its members as the primary medium.

“We spent a year selling the ad space on our pants,” Galbreth said. “The concept came from — literally — from a New Year’s Eve thing, watching football. You know, the football games are like, ‘The Tostitos Bowl, brought to you by FedEx,’ so we thought, ‘Why can’t we be the Tostitos Art Guys and sell ourselves?’” 

In an effort to continue challenging popular ideas about art, The Art Guys married a tree several years ago.

“Around 2004 to 2006, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston asked us if we could do something for them,” Galbreth said. “We said we wanted to marry a plant, and they said that was great. We ended up deciding on a live oak tree.”

Lily Avalos, a visual artist who participated in the presentation, said the duo has been an inspiration in her own work.

“I think it’s really just a good refresher … to continue what you’re doing,” Avalos said. “Just do what you want. Do what you’re proud of. Don’t take yourself too, too seriously,”