No stranger to shocking Houston’s square community, artist/Notsuoh owner Jim Pirtle is at it again.
Right now, the capacious shop windows of his club in the 300 block of Main, facing out toward Preston MetroRail station, are filled with a controversial art installation.
The work, by local artists Shawna Mouser and Jennifer Pod, is called VaginArt. One half of the piece consists of the lower torsos of two shop mannequins with flowers between their legs, along with a pizza-sized paper wall-hanging with a suggestive slit in it.
The other half, and the one far more likely to have caused a ruckus, consists of a blow-up doll backlit by a sleazy strobe light, parading before a background of medium-raunchy centerfolds with black electrical tape concealing their naughty bits.
Evidently the downtown office crowd found that spectacle – along with Pirtle’s makeshift plywood door and window – a little too lurid for Houston’s (allegedly) spiffed-up downtown.
“The place is looking odd from the outside,” admitted Pirtle, who couldn’t be reached on the phone, in Monday’s post on his Myspace blog.
“It looks like Times Square in the late 80s when sex shops and porno houses were there instead of Toys R Us and the Disney Store. So plywood and sex gives the place a charming seedy almost degenerate blightesque feel.”
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The post went on to say that he often hears passersby asking "Is that legal?” and “Who in the city can I call to complain?"
According to Pirtle, the nocturnal crowd has another view. “At night when the prison dudes hang out with swastika tattoos in front of the sex doll...god it feels like the good ol days of Notsuoh.”
But apparently the day bunch has (partially) prevailed. When we visited this afternoon, the more risqué half of VaginArt was discreetly hidden from the street, a red sheet temporarily shielding the delicate sensibilities of Houston’s ever-prudish Park-And-Ride crowd.
– John Nova Lomax