Jim Pirtle was born in Houston, TX in 1960. In High School he was selected “Most Nonconformist.” He went to Baylor University in Waco, TX and received a BA in history but more importantly was a member of the NoZe Brotherhood. The group was an underground mask wearing secret society of satirists that through writing, campus interventions and performance art exposed the hypocrisy of conservative Baptists. After college he moved to Austin, TX and got a job as an orderly at the Austin State Hospital. This was a crash course education in the extremes of human behavior. After two years in the locked up insaneness of collecting urine, breaking up fights and mopping up spontaneous miscarriages he jumped to the other extreme, moving back to Houston and becoming a Kindergarten teacher for 10 years ? innocence and hope.
During the mid 80’s he was becoming an obsessive painter and found the local art community. He moved into an artist warehouse and got his formal art training from Nestor Topchy and Mark Flood. A thrift store addict, he wore only polyester for seven years which eventually became his canvas. He also developed his trademark performance art persona, Stu Mulligan, a man that ate mayonnaise and chug-a-lugged hot sauce and mimicked the behaviors of the mentally ill while singing lounge music. He co-founded a theater and performance space with Nestor Topchy which began the concept of notsuoH ? an 1893 building of 15,000 square feet that became a monumental social sculpture on Main Street of downtown Houston ? it attracts the extremes and in-between of a community to interact and be whatever it is to be human.
@ Full Buck by Continuum, 2015. Image courtesy of Alex Barber
@ Lone Star Explosion 2012. Image (and top image) courtesy of Steve Boriack