Artist covers family home of 70 years in portraits prior to demolition

By Ben Hooper  |  Feb. 10, 2016 at 12:26 PM
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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- An artist whose California childhood home is slated for demolition covered the house in 70 years worth of photos as a tribute to the home and his family.

Gary Sweeney, 63, an artist who lives in San Antonio, Texas, said he resisted selling his childhood home in Manhattan Beach for several years, but he recently decided it was time to part with the structure and sold it to a developer.

"A property manager told us it needed a new roof and there might be termites," he told LA Magazine. "To be honest, we had been getting offers of an armored car full of money for about five years. And then in August my realtor called me and said an identical lot went for two armored cars full of money. And so that's when we decided it was time to sell."

The artist said the house was sold for $2.6 million.

Sweeney said the developer, who plans to demolish the house to make room for condos, allowed him to turn the house into a temporary art installation while it awaits demolition.

He said the house belonged to his family for more than 70 years.

"My mother bought it in 1945 while my father was in Guam during World War II," he told KABC-TV. "It was $5,400 and it had dishes and furniture in it."

Sweeney said he chose 80 photos -- mostly taken by his father, Mike -- to enlarge and cover the exterior of the house for an installation he titled, A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945-2015.

"I wanted to pay tribute to the house. I wanted to pay tribute to his photography and our family. So the idea came that I was going to do something with his photographs, and then I thought it would be more public to cover the outside of the house with his photographs," he told the San Antonio Express-News.

Sweeney said he will pack up the portraits at the end of the month, when the house is scheduled to be torn down.

"It's not going to be fun when I drive off," he told LA Weekly, "but this is always going to be my hometown."

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