UH Moment

UH Moment: “The Statue of Four Lies”

Art can spark discussion, debate, even discord. A recent public art unveiling on the campus of the University of Houston did not disappoint. Here’s this week’s UH Moment.


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A curious crowd gathered around the cloaked figures in a plaza near the new Cougar Village. Students, staff and a chancellor, serenaded by a long-haired guitarist, shared space with a petting zoo, a magician and an off-key singer. The scene may have been deemed odd were it not the setting of the unveiling of the latest piece of public art on campus by UH alums, The Art Guys, Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth.

Various items found in the Statue of Four LiesTitled “The Statue of Four Lies,” the piece features life-size, bronze statues of the artists, arms extended in either a mock bow or a beckoning to come closer. A stone plaza surrounds a theater-like stage, where art lovers and other on-lookers are invited to interact.

“We want them to,” said Art Guy Michael Galbreth. “When you research and you look at what happens to well-known statues around the country, and in particular at universities, kids have a tendency to interact with them, to pick on them. They might put things on the heads of the statues or dress them or paint them. We not only expect that, we desire that. We want them to interact with us.”

The Statue of Four Lies is inspired by the famous (or infamous) “Statue of Three Lies” on the campus of Harvard University. The statue is said to be of the founder, John Harvard, who founded the university in 1638. Wrong on all three accounts.

“We thought, by golly, we Texans can tell more lies than those Yankee upstarts!” Galbreth said.

He adds the UH piece isn’t really about lies as much as it is about inaccuracies sprinkled around the piece, bordered with Latin phrases. Viewers also will question the placing of a bronze suitcase in one corner of the space and a bronze toothbrush, seemingly forgotten, in another. Others will just question.  A press release by the artists may answer some questions or inspire more.

The Arts Guys“In so many ways it’s just a kooky thing to do,” he said. “It’s in the ultimate in bad taste to put a bronze statue of yourself up. It’s preposterous. We don’t deserve it. But that’s fine.”

“The Statue of Four Lies” joins more than 400 pieces of public art on campus.

“The Statue of Four Lies” is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.