The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists

By Robert Craig Bunch | Go to book overview

Jack Massing

Received July 18, 2012
Born 1959, Buffalo, New York;
lives in Houston

Q What have you learned from The Art Guys Marry a Plant?

AMarry a Plant has been a rich and rewarding experience from the beginning of the conversation with Mike. There are multiple layers of thought to this work. It is far more complicated and nuanced than meets the eye. It is somewhat challenging in our culture to actually go through the performance of getting married to a tree. On one hand it is absurd and on the other it is profound. It is not that way in other cultures. In Indian Hindu tradition there are several instances where people marry trees. They also marry one tree to another. For us, we find a lot of humor or an “odd way of thinking” going on here. Humor can be the subject of an object, or an object for a subject. In this case the tree is both. The imposition of the act of marriage on another living creature by us (two male human artists) is odd. Thinking or acting oddly is funny. The wedding was truly a shared communal experience with all the trappings of a traditional wedding. We knew from the outset that this marriage would not be an official marriage because it was not recognized by the state. We knew the law in this case. There were some people in the Houston art community that took this wrong and had a lot to say about it. They generated a narrow-minded perception that we were tone deaf to the civil rights struggle for same-sex marriage in humans to be officially recognized by the states and U.S. government. They could not see the forest for the trees, and ironically, the plant that we married had no say in the conversation whatsoever. We were the only ones to stand up for the tree. The Art Guys are one entity and the tree another. It had nothing to do with gayness. We have been working as a pair of men for almost thirty years and this was the first time any of our work was branded anti-gay. Why would our well-known stroll around Houston with water buckets strapped to our feet not be perceived as a gay stroll? One lesson that I took away is that a small group of small-minded people can highjack almost anything and direct the conversation away from its original intention to serve their needs. You see that in American politics all too often.

As for the plant (southern Live Oak) I have learned a lot from the tree by simply thinking about it. I have learned by comparing plants to humans. More than likely the tree does not know that it was sold for money on a free market. Nor does the tree have any idea what has happened to it other than it was moved around in a pot for a few years, living both indoors and out, got very sick, recovered, then was planted in a wonderful location with plenty of sun and water where it really began to thrive, only to be broken by some human. It is thriving once again and I believe it knows that it is thriving. The tree looks happy from where I stand.

-19-

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The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Margaret Adie 9
  • Helen Altman 12
  • Celia Álvarez Muñoz 14
  • The Art Guys- Michael Galbreth 17
  • Jack Massing 19
  • Frances Bagley 22
  • Karin Broker 25
  • Maureen Brouillette 28
  • Steve Brudniak 31
  • Margarita Cabrera 35
  • Eugene W. R. Campbell Jr 38
  • Danville Chadbourne 40
  • Claire Cusack 46
  • Robert Dampier 48
  • Roberto del Rio 51
  • Martin Delabano 54
  • Vernon Fisher 58
  • Trenton Doyle Hancock 60
  • Vincent Hannemann 62
  • Ann Harithas 66
  • Dana Harper 69
  • Joseph Havel 71
  • Tracy Hicks 73
  • Paul Horn 77
  • Otis Huband 79
  • Christopher Hynes 81
  • Barbara Irwin 83
  • Joy Jenkins 85
  • Norman Kary 89
  • Mimi Kato 93
  • Sharon Kopriva 96
  • Laura Jean Lacy 98
  • Marilyn Lanfear 101
  • Lance Letscher 104
  • Ken Little 106
  • Bert L. Long Jr 111
  • Jesse Lott 115
  • Edward Lane McCartney 117
  • Mary McCleary 121
  • Leila McConnell 124
  • Kelly O’Connor 127
  • Mari Omori 129
  • Kathleen Packlick 131
  • Angelica Paez 134
  • Kevin Parmer 136
  • Forrest Prince 139
  • Russell Prince 142
  • Dario Robleto 144
  • Aaron Roe 147
  • Jonathan Rosenstein 149
  • John Mark Sager 151
  • Joel Sampson 154
  • Ward Sanders 156
  • Luke Savisky 158
  • Kelly Sears 163
  • Al Souza 165
  • Julie Speed 167
  • James Michael Starr 169
  • Henry Stein 173
  • Gary Sweeney 175
  • Cecil Touchon 177
  • Patrick Turk 181
  • Janet L. Waldrop 184
  • Debbie Wetmore 186
  • Steve Wiman 188
  • Sources and Further Reading 191
  • Index 199
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