San Antonio artist Gary Sweeney and Austin artist Lauren Levy exhibit recent work in concurrent exhibitions at the Southwest School of Art and Craft, in celebration of Contemporary Art Month.
The Southwest School of Art and Craft is one of the largest and most comprehensive art schools in the nation. An additional purpose of the school is to preserve the former Ursuline Academy and Convent as a place of historic significance.
Gary Sweeney draws relationships between incongruous ideas and fragments of popular culture, using unusual materials and a large dose of humor. His new works, loosely based on The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant, include the first paragraphs of that definitive history spelled out in discarded commercial signs. Using several of the chapter titles to frame this exhibition, Sweeney combines personal family stories and memorabilia with ideas drawn from history and contemporary American culture.
Known for works he has created from salvaged signs and old photographs, Sweeney allows some of his newer work to take a different turn. Using a router and a paintbrush with great care, he transcribes his mother‚s sloppy Joe recipe in Abraham Lincoln's handwriting, chronicles Georgia O'Keeffe's aging through the decline in her signature‚s legibility, and charts the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) crisis.
Sweeney gained notoriety while living in Denver, where he exhibited widely and was commissioned to create work for the International Airport‚s Main Terminal. He moved to San Antonio in 1996 and has exhibited nationally and internationally, including group exhibitions in Spain and Austria as well as Colorado and Texas. Sweeney‚s work has garnered attention in New Art Examiner, the Los Angeles Times and Southwest Art. His work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art, as well as many private collections. He holds a BFA from the University of California at Irvine.
Lauren Levy uses buttons, piano keys, wire and other diminutive objects to create small, fetishistic sculptures of startling power. They often recall garment shapes or animal forms. She strings shiny, colored buttons on steel wires, and then knits them into sculptures, using „old-fashioned‰ techniques in new ways. Because Levy‚s works are intimate and intricate, requiring long periods of time to make, they are infused with the emotional depth of her own personal experience and process. While some of the works refer to tragic events, others are very playful.
Levy, who lives in Austin, holds a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin, with additional study in metalsmithing at the Oregon College of Art & Craft. She is represented by DBerman Gallery.
Mary Kuckelman's Sloppy Joe Recipe as Written by Abraham Lincoln
Routed oak, plywood, paint
48 x 48 inches