Artpace Rebus

Gary Sweeney

Exhibition: May 13 – Jun 15, 2004

In his WindowWorks project, Sweeny presents a rebus-a message spelled out in pictures and symbols-that hints at Artpace’s mission. Cartoon imagery and vinyl letters communicate the idea that “here at Artpace we are trying to create art experiences for San Antonio, bringing you art for the thinking person.” By identifying the organization’s mission through a rebus, Sweeney refers to the use of the pictorial puzzle in coat-of-arms designs. The English coat of arms, still widely used, is a tool for distinguishing a particular person, family, or clan.

Sweeney’s message invests the viewer with a sense of competence, and suggests that the art experience is a requisite for the development of a “thinking person.” The puzzle itself activates nontraditional methods of problem-solving, emphasizing the importance of imagery in the activation of cognition.


Gary Sweeney

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Gary Sweeney appropriates commercial signage and found objects to create paintings, sculptures, and installations that humorously confront controversial topics. In his text-based compositions, he often uses linguistic puzzles and famous quotations to question the progress of society. The artist mocks 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, Texas (2003); Robischon Gallery, Denver, Colorado (2002); and Tokyo Project, Japan (2002). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including New American Talent, ArtHouse, Austin, Texas (2004); Word, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas (2003); and Texas Biennial, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas (2001).

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