Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma, Washington

(253) 272-4258


The Art Guys Again and Again


The Art Guys are taking over the Tacoma Art Museum April 17 through July 25, 1999; that is the Tacoma Art Guys Museum. You see what I mean.

The Art Guys, Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth from Houston, document everyday objects and revel in their comedy. Working collaboratively in a wide variety of forms, from simple objects to complex installations and performances, they have been called "part Dada, part David Letterman." They have long explored the intersection of money, art, and everyday behavior, poking fun at the commercialization of art. No subject seems to be outside their grasp, from selling Art Guys birdhouses alongside the interstate to turning food into art. Their sometimes high school highjinks belie the thoughtfulness and structure that make the work so compelling.

For The Art Guys Again and Again at TAM, Curator of Contemporary Art Greg Bell has selected work that focuses on structure and repetition. These strong organizing elements can be seen in works as diverse as The Suitcase Wheel, a sixteen foot high sculpture of suitcases from the 1950s bolted together into a giant ring. Cheese Grid, lies on the floor, a minimalist piece constructed of American cheese slices that invokes Carl Andre's sculpture.

Corona Tower, standing as tall as the viewer and made from Corona beer bottles, is countered by the linear 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, a long shelf with - you guessed it - 99 bottles of beer. In Galbreth's words, "What artists do is confusing to people. We try to bring people into a dialogue, and we found that the best way to welcome a large audience was through humor.

The latest project of The Art Guys - or Art Gize or Aaaart Guise ("any phonetic spelling is acceptable," they say) - is Suits: The Clothes Make the Man, a pair of men's suits designed by Todd Oldham that "weave fashion, advertising, and media into a compelling social fabric."

The Art Guys have leased space on the suits to clients such as Absolut Vodka, Altoids, Target, Timex, and Larry's Markets and embroidered the company's logo on the fabric. It's "Madison Avenue meets NASCAR." They will be wearing their suits at all of their public outings through July 1999.

Read more in Resource Library about the Tacoma Art Museum

Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Suitcase Wheel, 1990-95, suitcases and steel armature, 200 x 200 x 21 inches; Carrot Wheel, 1993-96, carrots and nails

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

Copyright 2012 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.