We think you’d agree that Las Vegas has a certain reputation for being a touch scandalous and encouraging its visitors to let their inhibitions waver for their time in the city. But apparently that casual disregard for the uptight standards we keep holy here in the other 49 states stops abruptly at murals. The Las Vegas Sun reports that city officials have forced covering up sections of the paintings outside of the Erotic Heritage Museum, with burlesque-like pasties, claiming the nudity therein violated local sign laws. Now a debate is on whether or not the city is censoring legitimate art or are simply applying familiar laws. It’s not something new to the city, this issue, as it’s apparently come up from time to time whenever an artist decides to go a bit “blue” in public view:
The outrage unleashed four years ago by members of the Las Vegas Centennial Committee over a mural by Los Angeles artist Alexis Smith made the statement that it’s okay to market sex in Southern Nevada for financial gain, but sexual dialogue in public art is not welcome.
Smith’s mural featured an upside-down rendition of the 18th-century Thomas Lawrence painting “Pinky,” covered with the inverted letter “A.” In that situation, the reference to adultery was the problem. This was while Las Vegas was riding on the popularity of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority‘s “What happens here stays here” campaign.