Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver...Why I Love Her

Rounding the corner at DIA Monday morning, I ran smack into artist Gary Sweeney, who moved from Denver more than a decade ago, but left plenty for this city to remember him by. "America...Why I Love Her," for example, the airport's most beloved public-art piece, complete with a map of the United States, postcards from odd tourist attractions across the country, and blown-up photos from Sweeney family vacations.

I had passed the piece just ten seconds and ten feet before I ran into its creator.

Ironically, it was the opening of DIA that led Sweeney, a longtime fixture on the local art scene, to leave Denver. A baggage handler for Continental for 25 years now, his job moved to San Antonio when Continental pulled its hub from Denver, rather than pay increased costs at the then-new airport.

While he still slings baggage, Sweeney continues to create art, and is part of the current Texas Biennial 2007 Exhibition (one of his new pieces is shown above). And he still makes it back to town, as evidenced by his appearance right by "America...Why I Love Her" at DIA this week.

In Denver, creative people and coincidences are always just around the corner. More reason to love this city. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun