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Playboy art display sparks controversy in West Texas town

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July 3, 2013: Playboy Marfa, a new art installation depicting the iconic Playbory bunny logo and a classic 1970's muscle car on a tilted platform, was erected along U.S. 90 about a mile West of Marfa, Texas. (AP)

A Texas agency says Playboy has 45 days to remove a neon-lit 40-foot high sculpture of the magazine's iconic bunny logo from a West Texas road.

The Texas Department of Transportation ordered the removal of the sign, called "Playboy Marfa," because Playboy does not have a license for outdoor advertisement in Texas.

The El Paso Times reports officials representing Playboy said the company has not violated any laws and will try to resolve the agency's concerns.

Officials were alerted about the sign after Marfa resident Lineaus Lorette filed a complaint. "I thought it was a sign -- a corporate logo. And in Texas you can't put up signs without permits," Lorette said. "I checked and it didn't have a permit so I filed a complaint."

Lorette says some Marfa residents are upset the company has used their town, known as a hub for artists, for marketing purposes.

"I was really ambivalent. It's a beautifully made sign," Lorette said. "The problem is that it's a sign. The rules have to apply to everybody."

Veronica Beyer, TxDOT's director of media relations in Austin said that the agency is treating the case like any other instance in which someone puts up a road side advertisement without a license in an area that does not qualify.

The sign is part of a roadside art display designed by New York contemporary artist Richard Phillips and Playboy's creative director of special projects Neville Wakefield. The installation features the offending sign perched atop a post and a concrete platform displaying a stylized version of 1972 Dodge Charger, a classic American "muscle car."

PR Consulting,  a firm that represents Playboy said that they do not consider that "the art installation by Richard Phillips violates any laws, rules or regulations. Our legal counsel is currently looking into this matter and we hope to resolve this issue satisfactorily and as quickly as possible."

Located in the heart of West Texas, Marfa is known as a hub for artists and creative types.  It is also no stranger to out-of-the-ordinary roadside art exhibitions. Prada Marfa, an installation that mimics one of the high-end fashion brand's stores in the middle of a pasture was erected in 2005 along the same road as the Playboy display.

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