Nights at the Museum

Spencer Sweeney at Gavin Brown's Enterprise

Though he is often described as an indefinable figure, the thread that ties Spencer Sweeney’s various activities—artist, DJ, musician and club owner among them—is New York.  Moving to the city from Philadelphia in the 90s, Sweeney established himself within the downtown art and music scenes, playing in the band Actress alongside Lizzi Bougastsos (who went on to form Gang Gang Dance) and deejaying at the notorious dives he frequented. This musical side stood him in good stead when he came across Gavin Brown’s bar Passerby at Brown’s former gallery on 15th Street and was quickly added to their roster of artists. In 2003, Sweeney’s solo show led to comparisons with Martin Kippenberger, who also had a well-developed public persona and worked across a range of mediums and styles. Sweeney’s longstanding familiarity with the gallery was taken to another level this past December, when he was invited to inhabit and redefine the space through installation, creation and curation. Often clad in a paint-spattered djellaba, Sweeney hosted friends such as TV Baby’s Matt McAuley and fellow artist Aurel Schmidt in the "all-consuming environment" that they created, threw a closing bash featuring cult rockers Endless Boogie and painted prolifically in the month and a half long theatrical experiment-cum-exhibition. “Egyptian Diving Board Part II” largely comprises the self-portraits that arose from this residency—Sweeney’s bearded face peering out comically through lurid colors interspersed with his paintings of friends, including Danny McDonald, his alter ego Mindy Veil and Kendra Pfahler.  "There were certain figures that I felt were a part of myself and the way I understand my existence, so I turned the show out towards them," Sweeney explains.

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