City of San Marcos tries to remove car-turned-visual art from public view.

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Date: 2008

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Sculpture, Public Art


Artist: Michael Kleinman, Scott Wade, John Furley Travis

Confronting Bodies: City of San Marcos

Date of Action: 2008

Location: San Marcos, Texas

Description of Artwork: A smashed '88 Oldmobile that has been painted over and cacti put in top of it.

The Incident: Kleinman had this car put in front of his new Planet K store. It was visible from a highway. However, San Marcos has a law that states that junked cars (which this Oldsmobile was) are banned from public places or from places that can be viewed from public spaces. The City gave Planet K multiple tickets for it and then ordered the car to be removed.

Results of Incident: Kleinman and the artists brought the matter into court, claiming that the city was in violation of the First Amendment and the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The court determined that, under intermediate scrutiny, the city had an interest in banning junked cars from sight. Also, it was determined that VARA did not apply to this case because the car was used as advertisement for the store. The District Court ruled for the city and ordered the car to be removed. The 5th Circuit Court affirmed the decision on its merits but vacated the order due to a technicality.

Source: Kleinman v. City of San Marcos