Signage or Art? Provocative Murals Spark Debate

Ho-Down Mural Project, Erotic Heritage Museum, Las Vegas
The Ho-Down Mural Project, an art installation sponsored by the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, has caused a debate over the difference between signage and art. [Credit: Steve Marcus.]

LAS VEGAS, NV —  A provocative public mural art installation exhibit sponsored by the Erotic Heritage Museum of Las Vegas is causing quite a debate. The non-profit museum was recently charged with a signage code violation after their so-called Ho-Down Mural Project was labeled pornographic by city officials.

“They are not signs,” commented Allen Lichtenstein of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “There was no violation of anything. This is art.”

The museum's ultimate plan was to dedicate the artworks to the city. Supporters say the murals painted on the building's exterior walls have artistic value and are a celebration of under-appreciated Urban Art. Critics found offense in the exposed nipples on the portraits of women.
Museum curator Dr. Laura Henkel explained, “These murals are intended to present a forum for conversation and education on sexuality and art.” She continued, “We were instantly sensitive to the community and voluntarily applied 'pasties' to cover portions of the artists’ renderings so the art would not be damaged.”

In a city known for sex, drinking, gambling and a "what happens here, stays here" mentality, one can't help but wonder how the murals got so much notice in the first place.


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