On December 2, from 1-4 p.m., the Menil Bookstore will host a book launch and signing for the new publication Two Clever by Half, which features individual and collaborative works by Houston artist Jack Massing and New York artist William Wegman. While Mr. Wegman will not be in attendance for the event, Mr. Massing will.
The publication comes out of an ongoing exchange and recent exhibition by Mr. Massing and Mr. Wegman. The pair have long been in contact, regularly sending each other photos, text, videos, and other media. This was, however, largely private until recently: when visiting with Jade Dellinger, the director of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at the Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers, Mr. Massing noted that he was receiving a text from Mr. Wegman. When Mr. Massing began telling Mr. Dellinger about the nature of the artists’ exchange, the spark of the exhibition was born. As Mr. Dellinger told Florida Weekly: “it became clear that these exchanges that were so personal, they had an intimacy about them, from Bill’s phone to Jack’s phone and back. I thought, this goes beyond entertaining each other or one-upmanship. These two incredible photographers are sending photographs, art, back and forth. I asked, is there a way this can be formalized, would you be willing to come and make an exhibition, if I get the time and space and a little bit of money?”
Mr. Massing and Mr. Wegman ultimately agreed to turn their communications into an exhibition, which was on view at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery from September 2021 to March 2022. (Though it was originally slated to close in December 2021, the show proved to be so popular that Mr. Dellinger extended it.) Throughout the run of the exhibition, Mr. Massing used the gallery as a studio space for weeks at a time, during which he would make art, communicate with Mr. Wegman (who himself was working at his studios in New York and Maine), and interact with students and gallery visitors. The show was constantly changing and had no labels or explanatory text.
The publication, which is designed by Connie Hwang Design, is both a document of the show and of the artists’ relationship, since they are one and the same. Timestamped photos are paired with text exchanges that accompanied them; another section of the book shows installation photographs of the exhibition at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery; and another simply shows paired images, denoting which artist sent the call and which was responding.
Two Clever by Half will be available for purchase at the Menil Bookstore in Houston. The book is published by the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW.