Controversial Playboy Sign Moves to Dallas

By Terry Wallace
|  Friday, Nov 15, 2013  |  Updated 5:23 AM CDT
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Controversial Playboy Sign Moves to Dallas

NBC News

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A 40-foot high Playboy bunny logo that had upset some residents of the West Texas town of Marfa will be removed from a roadside display and hauled to a Dallas museum, where it will be featured in an exhibition.

The neon bunny that's part of the "Playboy Marfa" sculpture by New York contemporary artist Richard Phillips will be dismantled this month and taken from U.S. 90 to the Dallas Contemporary museum near the city's downtown. The move to Dallas, about 500 miles northeast of Marfa, is the result of a deal with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The bunny will be installed at the museum in March and displayed in April. It will be part of an exhibition highlighting Phillips' work, said museum spokeswoman Erin Cluley.

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The museum does not keep its art as part of any collection, so the neon bunny will be moved again -- it's just not clear where, Cluley said.

Peter Doroshenko, executive director of the museum, said Dallas Contemporary has been working with Phillips for a year on his first museum exhibition in the U.S. He said the Playboy piece will be one of several three-dimensional art works displayed along with paintings and drawings.

"I anticipate that the focus and scope of the project will make it one of the highest attended exhibitions in Dallas for 2014," Doroshenko said.

The "Playboy Marfa" sculpture debuted last June in Marfa, about 180 miles southeast of El Paso. Some Marfa residents were upset that their town -- known as a hub for artists and creative types -- was being used for marketing purposes. Also, Texas transportation officials said the sculpture lacked a state permit required for outdoor billboards and moved quickly to give Playboy 45 days to remove it.

"We have been working to find a solution to this, so we are happy this has been resolved and that Texans will still get to enjoy this piece of art," said Veronica Beyer, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Still unresolved, though, is the fate of a sealed model Prada showroom that has stood for years beside U.S. 90 in the West Texas desert town of Valentine, about 35 miles northwest of Marfa.

Transportation officials also deemed that a form of advertising similar to a billboard, meaning it would need to be licensed by the state. However, the area where it is located is not eligible for such permits.

"All I can tell you about Prada is we are working on a solution, but cannot get into specifics yet," Beyer said.

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