Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Art Guys-Devon Britt-Darby Saga Continues

by Robert Boyd

Commeorative Cake Topper
The Art Guys, The Art Guys Marry a Plant Cake Topper, painted porcelain wedding toppers, model tree (plastic), model makers' grass, brass plaque, glass bell jar with wood base, edition of 12, 2009

That headline is a little misleading--nothing has really happened since Britt-Darby left town and the tree was vandalized. But new details came to light in a piece, "This Month in Art-Killing Nonsense," by Buffalo Sean in the Free Press Houston. (The piece is not online.) Sean succinctly details the whole story (and does so without being boring, which is amazing given how much this story has been repeated). But Sean adds some details I hadn't heard before.
The morning of the 'attack' on the artwork a police report was filed after an altercation between [Art Guys] Massing, Galbreth and gallerist Hiram Butler in front of his gallery. The Huffington Post reports "They [The Art Guys] called him [Butler] 'a coward and an evil fuck' and accused him of being an 'unhappy homosexual.'"
And Sean puts his finger on one important upshot to this. "[The] Chronicle has no art critic and will not get one for the foreseeable future." I heard that they were interviewing shortly after Britt-Darby left, but I haven't heard anything since. The art coverage has been very spotty, but there was a nice feature on the Seeing Stars exhibit (which is freaking great, by the way) in last Sunday's Zest. (That piece aside, Zest has to be the weakest Sunday culture magazine imaginable.)

In the end, I think Sean overstates the importance of all this. "[The Art Guys] have alienated many people with their callous actions and set the Houston artworld back from from recognizing conceptual artwork as valid for years to come. Accusations of homophobia, witch-hunting and professional incompetence are seeping out of the controversy which will inevitably leave a stain on Houston's already soiled reputation. [...] There is no beauty to be found in the Art Guys' works or Britt's social sculpture web videos, only the pain of destroying art in a misguided run towards celebrity." I think the art scene will suffer for not having a regular art critic at the Chron, Toby Kamps may be spanked by the Menil brass ("Dude, why did you bring this tsuris on us?"), and the Art Guys' reputation will suffer. Who knows where Britt-Darby will end up out of this. But that's about it. The rest of us will just continue on, making art, looking at art, writing about art, etc.

That said, I can't close without commenting on one last statement Sean wrote: "Boyd is the only art critic left in Houston." I might be the most prolific, but there are other good art writers in Houston. Still--we need more. All you would-be art writers--contact me at



  1. You're right that it matters less than I made it sound, but such is the work of yellow journalists. Gotta hook the reader, eh?

    Just had a conversation that "didn't happen" about all this, and it is even murkier than I thought. I'm not going to comment further but the best thing that could happen is if this all goes away.

    btw, you ARE the only art writer out there worth an ounce of salt, keep writin' yo.


  2. Maybe one day, when I'm buying a delicious crepe confection from Melange Creperie (how's that for a plug?), you can tell me what you heard--off the record, of course.