By Sydney Rose
A pair of bronze figures stand in a little plaza in Lynn Eusan Park on the University of Houston (UH) campus. Though The Statue of Four Lies sits conspicuously outside a dormitory, where students frequently pass by it without a second glance, at other times, the artwork beckons them onto the plaza to examine its truths and fabrications more closely. Beneath the surface, The Statue of Four Lies embodies more than thirty years of the creativity, curiosity, and camaraderie that defined its creators, The Art Guys, throughout their careers.
Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing began their friendship by collaborating on a music festival task in 1983 while students at UH. Neither Jack nor Michael were native Houstonians; Jack was born in Buffalo, New York, and Michael was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but their friendship blossomed in Houston, once they realized their mutual fondness for creativity and just the right amount of oddity. As Massing put it, “We were both very curious, … [and] it just so happened that we clicked.” After the music festival, they talked about working together on different ideas, agreeing that the work would occur every solstice and every equinox, which went on for about a year and a half. This led to the formation of The Art Guys, when Jack and Michael found a can of paint on the side of the road, dipped their hands in, and shook hands with the paint covering them. Jack then commented, “I guess we’re The Art Guys now,” and the name stuck.
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