Art Guys Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing were holding up surprisingly well Sunday morning when CultureMap hopped aboard their decorated van for one of 30 consecutive trips around the 610 Loop — a nonstop 24-hour trek marking the 11th monthly installment of the duo's 30th anniversary celebration series, 12 Events.
"This freeway is an amazing physical reminder of what humans can do to the earth," said Galbreth from the passenger seat, roughly 19 hours into the so-called Loop project.
"Seriously, look at all this concrete. I'd love to think that a thousand of years from now, people will tour the Loop like they do the pyramids in Egypt."
" I'd love to think that a thousand of years from now, people will tour the Loop like they do the pyramids in Egypt."
Exhausted but in good spirits thanks to multiple Monster drinks, Massing noted that every 38-mile circular trip has its low points and high points, from painful traffic at the Galleria to the intriguing twists of roads and waterways near the ship channel. In a single loop, one can catch a glimpse of the city's entire economic landscape, he said.
The journey began on Saturday at 5 p.m. in a Taco Cabana parking lot along North Shepherd. Along with a team of assistant drivers and a van graciously sponsored by the Memorial City Management District, Galbreth and Massing traveled clockwise before switching directions 12 hours later. After countless stops for coffee, snacks and passengers, the group emerged victorious at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
With Loop, the Art Guys have set out to make an event from the uneventful, an exploration of Houston city life that lies the heart of their 12 Events series. Since January, the duo has walked the full length of Little York Road, proposed laws to city council and crossed the intersection of Westheimer and Hillcroft for eight straight hours.
"As artists, it's so important for us to engage the general public," Galbreth said. "We want to take the mundane and frame it in a different way for people."
While the simple act of driving along the Loop doesn't resemble an artistic gesture, he explained that hundreds of thousands motorists mark and observe Houston's terrain everyday in a manner no less compelling than landscape greats like Turner or Manet or Corot.
For the final 12 Events installment in December, Galbreth and Massing will recreate their first collaboration from 1983 — a piece during which the two artists stick their hands in buckets of paint, shake hands over a piece of paper and formally declare themselves "The Art Guys." This time they'll use a crane to perform the piece 30 feet in the air. Check the Art Guys website for more details.