Shake Hands with The Art Guys This Thursday for Art

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They've spent eight hours signing their names, walked the longest street in Houston, explored the cardinal points of Houston, conducted the sounds of the Houston Ship Channel and unwound and rewound a spool of thread. Now, they want to shake your hand.

This Thursday, The Art Guys will set up in the downtown tunnels under the Esperson Building for eight hours, available to everyone and anyone who wants to shake their hand.

Yes, June 27 happens to be National Handshake Day, but the event is also part of a larger series of year-long events as the quirky Houston art duo celebrates 30 years of collaboration. The Art Guys (Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth, if you want to know who exactly you'll be formally meeting) are almost halfway through these happenings, which they're conducting once a month this year.

Their "12 Events" kicked off in January at the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, where they spent eight hours and used 101 pencils to sign their names. Since then, they've walked all 29.6 miles of Little York Road; gathered items from the cardinal points of Houston (the extreme north, south, east, west street locations) and then displaced them in a counter-clockwise manner; stood at the Santa Anna Capture Site on the banks of the Houston Ship Channel with baton in hand to conduct the sound of birds chirping and wind; and finally used a spool of string they bought back in 1983 by merely unwinding and then rewinding it along White Oak Bayou. After shaking hands this month, presumably while wearing their trademark suits, July sees The Art Guys telling jokes for eight hours. And so on until December.

These events mark a dozen works that The Art Guys have conjured up but hadn't fully realized -- until now. While they may test the limits of their strength and sanity, the key thing is that they also are all free and public, so that anyone may participate.

This being the age of social media, if you don't happen to find yourself in the downtown tunnels this Thursday, you can also follow along on Facebook or Twitter. Hand sanitizer not required.

"Shake Hands With The Art Guys" in the Downtown Tunnel System, 808 Travis Street under the Esperson Building, is June 27 from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit www.theartguys.com/12events.html.

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