Residents of Marfa are getting their way. Many denizens of the West Texas town felt that the installation of a 40-foot tall neon sculpture of the Playboy bunny logo along U.S. Highway 90 besmirched their desolate horizon. The sign, which went up a few weeks ago, was part of a larger temporary art installation called “Playboy Marfa,” conceived of by curator Neville Wakefield and artist Richard Phillips, and part of the adult magazine's larger push to rebrand itself through contemporary art. Now, the work has been ordered to come down early for crossing the line between pop art and advertising.
“The [Texas Department of Transportation] has ordered the property owner to remove this sign because the owner does not have a Texas License for Outdoor Advertising and a specific permit application for the sign was not submitted,” explained Veronica Beyer, the director of media relations for the Texas DOT, in a statement. The agency has ordered Playboy Enterprises to remove the sign within 45 days, according to the El Paso Times.
Behind the complaint is Lineaus Lorette, a Marfa resident who is an accountant by trade but locally revered for crafting high quality medicine balls and for his collection of prison art. “I thought it was a sign — a corporate logo,” Lorette told the El Paso Times. “And in Texas you can't put up signs without permits.” After looking into it and discovering there was no permit for the neon bunny, Lorette filed a complaint.
The installation also includes a muscle car on a concrete plinth, which incensed many local residents who think it’s a cheap riff on local hero Donald Judd’s iconic Marfa installation “15 Untitled Works in Concrete, 1980-1984,” a set of hollow box-like structures made from slabs of concrete.
Despite the complaint, Playboy maintains the sign is legal.