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South Bay : BACK ON THE MAP

October 05, 1995

Manhattan Beach has been put on the map, so to speak.

Artist Gary Sweeney included a photo of a famous fire hydrant in the beach city on a U.S. map of obscure American sites that he was commissioned to create for the recently opened Denver International Airport. Sweeney created two 14- by 15-foot-tall maps that include 400 points of interest--200 on each map--for "America Why I Love Her," a permanent exhibit on display in the airport's baggage claim area.

Born and raised in Manhattan Beach, Sweeney, 43, spent a year traveling across the United States taking photos of "weird places" with an old camera. The black and white snapshots include the Barbie Doll Hall of Fame in Palo Alto, Calif., the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas and an exhibit at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minnesota. The photos have been framed and affixed to their geographic location on a plywood map of the 48 contiguous states.

Sweeney received $100,000 for his exhibit, which was part of a $7-million art commission to aesthetically enhance the airport. These days, he lives in San Antonio, Tex., where he said he is working on a "Texas Why I Love Her" exhibit. He hopes to sell that one, too.

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