A Manhattan Beach Memoir
- June 7 – September 9, 2018
- Featuring artist Gary Sweeney
In early 2016 artist, Gary Sweeney created his site-specific installation, A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945-2015 to commemorate his family home. In 1945, while Sweeney’s father Mike was returning from Guam after World War II, his mother Anita bought a small house at 320 35th St in Manhattan Beach, California. It was their family home for 70 years. Sweeney sold the house in July 2015, with the understanding that the new owner planned to demolish the house and put a new development in its place. As a tribute to his family, hometown, and father’s photography, Sweeney covered the exterior of the house with over one hundred large-scale family photographs and occupied the house during its final month February 2016. Though Sweeney uses documentation of his family’s history as source material for this project, his intent was not to highlight his family, but to trigger memories within the viewer, stating “My family wasn’t unique. We were ridiculously typical: two kids, a dog. I played Little League, which was what everyone did.”
For this exhibition, the artist resites the photographs and relics from the Sweeney home in the gallery and gives viewers the chance to connect to this unique project. The work encourages us to reflect on the significance of our family histories and its documentation as a critical player in the architecture of our memory.
Gary Sweeney appropriates commercial signage, his family photo archive, and found objects to create paintings, sculptures, and installations that humorously confront cultural topics and nostalgia. In his text-based compositions, he often uses linguistic puzzles and famous quotations to question the progress of society. The artist questions the patterns of social Darwinism and exposes the discrepancies and contradictions in current governmental, economic, and social milieux.
Sweeney received an MFA from the University of California at Irvine in 1975. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX; Robischon Gallery, Denver, CO; Tokyo Project, Japan; Artpace, San Antonio, TX; and Contemporary at Blue Star San Antonio, TX. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including New American Talent, ArtHouse, Austin, TX; Word, University of Dallas, Irving, TX; Texas Biennial, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, TX; The New American West in Barcelona; The Wild West, Arkin Museum of Modern Art, Ishoj, Denmark; and Nexus, Texas, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX; and many more. Sweeney has been commissioned to create numerous public art projects. Recent projects include the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center and the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX.