Gary Sweeney: 10 Facts

1. Gary Sweeney grew up in Manhattan Beach, California. When he was in high school and college, famed reclusive author Thomas Pynchon lived down the street, and was, in Gary’s words,  Gary’s sister Gail’s “BFF.” In fact, a Sweeney family casserole recipe appears in Pynchon’s novel Vineland.


2. Gary and his wife Janet Sweeney are proud owners of a retired racing greyhound named Stella. She is their second adopted Greyhound; the first, who passed away a few years ago, was named Scarlett. You can find out more about adopting one of these gentle giants at


3. Gary Sweeney’s dad, Mike Sweeney, was a police officer in the gritty harbor community of San Pedro, California, where he worked as a detective and as a police photographer. Gary Sweeney paid tribute to his dad’s work in a series of multimedia installations called The Harbor Division Series at Zip 37 Gallery in Denver in 1996.


4. Gary Sweeney recently collaborated with video-art duo the Prime Eights on a short film in which he appears both as an interview subject and as a baggage handler, which incidentally, he is.


5. For relaxation, Gary Sweeney enjoys donning scuba gear and hanging out at the bottom of the deep end of his swimming pool. He calls it his “personal Dr. Lilly Sensory-Deprivation Tank.”


6. Six days after graduating from high school in 1970, Gary and a friend rode their bicycles from Manhattan Beach, CA to Washington D.C.


7. In college, Gary Sweeney claims to have worked as a butler in the home of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. We choose to believe him.


8. The Sweeney family owned a hardware store, and Gary Sweeney slept in the display window for a month in order to advertise night lights.


9. “America: Why I Love Her,” Gary Sweeney’s public art installation in the Denver International Airport, features two large maps of the U.S., facing each other, bedecked with black and white photos of unusual roadside attractions in each state.


10. Gary Sweeney dressed as Popeye this past Hallowe’en.

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