The artist behind the spiked head bust in Trinity reveals its history

Jim Robertson, Owner of Overdrive Studios
Jim Robertson, Owner of Overdrive Studios

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) - It's got red eyes that glow at night and it's decorated with more than 1,000 railroad spikes, but for the people of Trinity, Texas the unusual 22-foot high metal head near FM 365 and Pegoda Road is becoming a landmark.

But for years, rumors have circulated throughout the town that the statue is satanic or loosely based off of the "Pinhead" movie, but artist Jim Robertson says those ideas are both wrong.

"A lot of people think it's from the 'Pinhead' movie, but it's not. If you know your 'Pinhead' movie, his pins are going into his face," Robertson said. "It's actually based off of what you would call an artifact for the Menil Collection in Houston and they have a lot of weird objects that the surrealist artists and writers collected. This is actually based on a costume in there."

It's a full body costume and it has a helmet and it has a leather coat or jacket and leather trousers and boots and it's studded with wooden spikes. And supposedly it was based on the Wildman in 18th century Germany that would put on this outfit and get into a ring with a bear and supposedly wrestle it."

Robertson taught painting and drawing at Lonestar College in Houston for over 29 years, and is now the owner of Overdrive Studios in Trinity. He says when he first brought the statue to the city people were skeptical, but now they love it.

"I think it's because it's so unusual and so big people will go 'Oh my God, what is this thing?' and they'll stop and look at it. There's always people out there taking photographs and pictures," said Robertson. "It's become sort of a landmark in Trinity and I guess because it's so big and it's so unusual looking."

In 2000, the now retired art teacher, was asked to participate in an international sculpture contest in Houston and that's when he says the "Wildman Statue" was born.

"I was invited to a large outdoor piece on Allen Parkway and these were up for about three months during that summer and I made the head specifically for that conference and I had one guy working with me to do most of the welding. He did most of the spikes on the head and the shoulders and it took us four months to complete it and then we installed it on Allen Parkway and it was there for three months," said Robertson.

The statue is split up in three parts--the head, neck, and bust--and is made out of steel. There are over 1,400 railroad spikes on the statue that Robertson collected in East Texas. There is also a trap door on the back of the statue.

"There's actually a trap door, not many people know about that, but on top of the base on one of the corners, I have a lock on it, I can open up the door and actually get down into it and climb up inside to change the light bulbs and if it needs to be moved, I'll loosen bolts and that sort of thing," Robertson said.

He has to change the light bulbs for the eyes every four months and he says when he forgets his neighbors remind him.

"They'll go 'Hey Jim!' one of your lights is out on the head," Robertson said.

Robertson also creates several other sculptures and has won several awards at the Houston Art Car Parade for his Jet Car, which used to be a Honda Accord and is now a futuristic style piece of art that he can still drive.

The car was also on display at the Space Center Houston for two months. He says he finds most of his materials for his art around town.

"A lot of car and sculptures are based on found objects especially farm machines. That's kind of nice about being in the country. I've come back with things, hay balers, and some of the things are antique stuff and I can use som eof the wheels based off of the farm equipment and some of the weird sculptures and vehicles that I do," Robertson said.

He mostly uses metals, such as steel, for his creations and he says people in town will drop off scraps of metal for him to use.

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