Family Pics Cover Home Slated for Demolition | NBC Southern California

Family Pics Cover Home Slated for Demolition

Artist Gary Sweeney has adorned his family's home with large-scale memories (ahead of its March demolition).

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    Gary Sweeney
    Artist Gary Sweeney has adorned his family's longtime home in Manhattan Beach with large-scale memories (ahead of its March demolition).

    A family home, one that's known generations of interconnected kin, is the world's most potent repository for memories.

    We almost wish, in a way, that those passing by the house, on foot, could see inside it, or at least know of all the birthdays and graduations and heartaches and happy times that have gone down with its brick or wood walls.

    There is a place in Manhattan Beach where passersby can peep inside without ever leaving the sidewalk, though a sense of time passing, and the bittersweetness of days gone by, may pervade the viewer. We speak of artist Gary Sweeney's "A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945-2015," which is now on view in its title city through the end of February 2016.

    What is it? It is a house, yes, and the large-scale photographs, which are displayed on the outside, are also real. The structure and snapshots belong to Mr. Sweeney's family, a multi-generational group that has called the cottage located at 320 35th Street home for several decades.

    The home is set to be demolished in March, for "a new development," inspiring Mr. Sweeney to give his family's longtime abode an emotional swan song of the most visual, and visceral, sort.

    Some 80 "personal family photos" now adorn the home's exterior, photos beautifully and crisply printed on MDO plywood. One picture shows parents and two kids, all dressed alike in stripes; another finds the porch dressed up for Christmas, complete with a plastic Santa.

    They're pictures familiar to most anyone, the kind of homey, everyday portraits so many of us know but don't think too much about. To see such snapshots covering a home that is now in its final days might give many viewers a lump in the throat, or at least find them pausing as they ponder their own childhood homes, and the memories created within.

    Gary Sweeney is well-known for his nostalgia-tinged effervescent artworks ("America, Why I Love Her" at the Denver International Airport springs to mind). Mr. Sweeney's father Mike, by the by, is the photographer, a man who captured many family moments and then, via a dark room in the house, turned them into prints meant to last forever.

    Surely he didn't see those photographs one day covering the outside of the house in its last weeks of existence.

    To see the home, just make for 320 35th St. in Manhattan Beach before the close of February. There are guided tours, too, every Wednesday afternoon.

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