Humor & Pathos aptly describes Gary Sweeney’s approach to art and life in general. Contagiously charismatic with a refined taste for wittiness, Sweeney’s visual vocabulary includes common icons of popular culture, ranging from hand-painted advertisement and neon signs to television shows and road trip memorabilia. This all-American aesthetic, reminiscent of his 1950s Southern California childhood, has an unthreatening, familiar appeal. But this keen observer of civilization’s phenomena and societal oddities leaves us strangely bemused, wondering weather we should laugh or cry in the face of our own imperfections. Within the easy-going world of Sweeney’s creation, we may happen upon the serious side of the human condition.
Sweeney, who is now based in San Antonio, Texas, has lived in Colorado for many years and is well remembered here, especially for his work America, Why I Love Her, a two-panel relief map of the United States on permanent display at Denver International Airport. Technically well-versed in printmaking and figure drawing, Sweeney is best known for his conceptual text and language-based work. His exhibition at BMoCA includes a neon sign installation inspired by a true love story and a large-scale house of cards as a powerful symbol for instability. The exhibition continues with a mosaic made from cups inserted into the chain link fence in Boulder’s Central Park, across from the museum.