Art or advertisement? Banana sculpture attracting eyes of WL officials

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Another banana is turning heads in West Lafayette and drawing criticism from city officials.

Granite Property Management has put up a banana sculpture at the top of Chauncey Hill. It’s bright, 14-feet tall and the newest addition to Chauncey Hill in West Lafayette.

Granite Student Living is calling this giant banana an art sculpture.

“I believe that it can still be art and there can still be an element of marketing in it,” said Granite Living Manager Joel Brovont. “People do it all the time. They incorporate their logos or whatever they use to market themselves in art or in some form of commercial speech. That doesn’t not make it art.”

However, this new banana isn’t the first giant banana to show up in West Lafayette.

In June 2013, a giant banana painted on one of Granite’s properties at the corner of Chauncey and Wood became the target of criticism. While Granite referred to the giant banana as art, some neighbors called it advertising. Ultimately, the house was not classified as advertising.

“The first time around, we said it’s an isolated incident with them painting the house with their logo and it could be construed as a sign,” said City Engineer Dave Buck. “Now that they’ve got repeated use of that, it really does speak toward it being their logo and being a sign.”

The arrival of the banana came as a surprise to West Lafayette officials.

Buck said he will take a look at it for the first time on Wednesday.

“You’re allowed to have certain signs — certain sizes, certain locations, the amount of square footage of a sign. If it’s a wall sign or a freestanding sign, it’s not that they’re disallowed. It’s just that they’re regulated,” said Buck. “You have to have a permit and it has to go in the right spot and it has to be fair for everybody.”

Brovont remains adamant that the banana is not a sign.

“Other than the banana itself, there’s no signage, there’s no phone number. There’s nothing that associates it with us, except for the fact that we do use a banana in some of our marketing,” Brovont said. “So there’s that connection, but it’s strictly meant to be a piece of art, a banana sculpture.”

Buck said if the banana is found to be a safety risk, it will most likely be removed immediately.

Brovont said to be on the lookout for more stuff by Granite, although he wouldn’t specify what.

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