Jack A. Massing (birth name John) was born in Buffalo NY in January of 1959. He grew up the Town of Tonawanda in a loving family with 4 siblings. After completing High School he attended Niagara County Community College graduating with an associate of science degree. He worked as an employee and intern at ArtPark in Lewiston NY for three summers. His parents and younger sister moved to the Houston area in 1981 and Jack joined them after living in New York City in 1979 and 1980. He attended The Glassell School of Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for a year then attended the University of Houston, graduating with a BFA in1984.
During his time at U of H he met Michael Galbreth and began a 34 year collaboration known as The Art Guys.
The Art Guys (Michael Galbreth, b. 1956, Philadelphia, and Jack Massing, b. 1959, Buffalo) began working together in 1983 after meeting while students at the University of Houston and continued a collaboration that spanned more than thirty years.
On April 1, 2016, The Art Guys announced “The Art Guys are not artists.”
The Art Guys’ work has been included in more than 200 exhibitions in museums, galleries and public spaces throughout the United States and in other parts of the world including Europe and China. Their work has been seen in more than 40 solo exhibitions among which include the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Tacoma Art Museum, the de Saisset Museum, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Tampa Museum of Art. The Art Guys realized major public art projects including Intercontinental Airport Houston, Phoenix Airport and the University of Houston as well as civic and private commissions. Additionally, The Art Guys lectured at more than 60 universities, museums and other institutions throughout the United States including Harvard, Chicago Art Institute, School of Visual Arts New York, Kansas City Art Institute, UCLA, Vanderbilt and many more.
The Art Guys experimented with a wide range of materials and activities in their attempt to expand the dialog and boundaries of art. Sculpture, drawing, performances, installations and video were among the many forms The Art Guys employed, with food, drugs, pencils, baseball bats, car lot flags, toothbrushes and matches as just a small sampling of the unconventional materials they have utilized. Using an open and offbeat “direct-to- the public” methodology, they staged exhibitions and events at grocery stores, movie theaters, airports, restaurants, sports arenas and many other non-traditional venues for experiencing art while also exploiting mass media and entertainment to explore contemporary society and issues. They are perhaps most well known for their numerous staged performances, public spectacles, and “behavioral” interventions in a wide array of situations that challenge the perceived divisions between art and life.
Described in the New York Times as “a cross between Dada and David Letterman, John Cage and the Smothers Brothers,” The Art Guys often used humor and everyday materials as a way to demystify art in an attempt to welcome a broad range of audiences into the discourse of contemporary art. In this way their work has been compared to medieval court jesters and fools as well as noted 20th century artists like Marcel Duchamp and Dada, Fluxus artists, Andy Warhol and William Wegman among others.
Articles, reviews and stories about their work have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Art In America, ArtNews, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, CNN, CBS News Sunday Morning and many more. The Art Guys have been included in many books and catalogs including The Art Guys: Think Twice and SUITS: The Clothes Make the Man, published by Harry N. Abrams, New York; and the DVD The Art Guys: Home On The Range, a compilation of 25 years of video works published by Microcinema International.
More information may be found on their website at TheArtGuys.com.