"Why I Love Her" USA Map
In the early 1990s, Continental Airlines customer service agent Gary Sweeny flung down his luggage tags and spent a year's worth of spare time flying for free and visiting offbeat US tourist attractions. His brain and his $5 snapshot camera accumulated so many vacation memories that the agent/artist vowed to share them with the world -- the tens of thousands of passengers passing through Denver International Airport each day.
In 1994, Gary created two huge maps of the United States on opposing walls of the airport, on the way to the east baggage claim. He named it "America: Why I Love Her." His adoration of Mother Country is in its sincerest form, with over 200 wacky places, many illustrated with framed black and white photos - from the Sand Museum in Freeport, Maine to Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in Simi Valley, California. Gary did his own original research - beyond simply buying one book and then forgetting what that book was...
Roadside America fans will enjoy the clusters of familiar marvels chosen - the Wonder Tower, Steven Canyon statue, World's Largest Prairie Dog and Kansas Teacher's Hall of Fame - all within a foot of each other. Adjacent to the maps are large photo blowups of boy Gary and his parents on a family vacation.
After many years of display, the USA Maps are still one of the most popular installations in the Denver airport. Sweeney parlayed the appreciation into opportunities for subsequent art projects, though he still enjoys his employment with Continental Airlines. He currently lives in San Antonio.