This cool personality’s name has a ring to it. A lustful, creative scoop of coolness and artistic professionalism. Christopher Sweeney’s talent and dedication to paying it forward in the community he lives in speaks for itself – through his artwork, his students, and through his admiration by so many individuals of all ages throughout Vero Beach and beyond.
Sweeney is a cool personality in many ways. An artist, a teacher, a writer, and a man who loves to express love in all that he does.
Originally from the Jersey Shore, Sweeney moved to Florida to attend college at Jacksonville University, where he studied art (of course), education, and Sociology. After graduation, he moved to the Treasure Coast. Vero Beach has been home to him for over four years.
Not only is it home to him, but it’s also home to a portion of his artwork, as his XøRobot and stretched heart murals are located throughout Vero’s downtown in various settings. If you’ve ever grabbed a bite to eat from Taco Dive downtown, you more than likely have seen his mural across the street.
“I love art, and the art scene,” Sweeney said. “Vero is already a beautiful place but I thought I could add to that.”
And so he did. While he enjoyed the traditional Florida murals that were already in place throughout Vero, Sweeney felt he could add a colorful, upbeat style of mural, as he said, “to shake things up.”
“About two years ago, I have Vero its first street art-style murals downtown,” said the artist, who spends most of his free time traveling to paint murals, creating his own art, or participating in gallery shows.
Sweeney’s heart murals have gained social media fame on Instagram, and he’s been a slew of magazine articles, newspaper features, and, for the kids, even a coloring book. Catch a glimpse of the coloring book (actually geared toward adults, but is child-appropriate) in this YouTube video.
Now, Sweeney said, there are more murals popping up around Vero (see The Murals of Vero’s Story three-part feature), and he feels a part of that movement.
“I feel I really helped open doors and an opportunity for urban art in downtown Vero Beach,” Sweeney said.
Cool? He thinks not. So, so many disagree!
“I’d say I’m a dork,” Sweeney laughed. “I just love art. I enjoy painting, making cartoons, and just being creative.”
Sweeney considers Vero Beach to be a great place to live and enjoy life, no matter what age someone is. His mural art is not only here, but also in locations throughout Florida, including Miami and Jacksonville.
“As an artist, I’d love to have a mural in every major city in America,” Sweeney shared. “I’d also love to write and illustrate my own children’s stories. I’ve had this goal that one day I’d write a story and have my murals be the illustrations for the story, that way people could actually go visit their favorite pages.”
Much of the support that Sweeney receives is from his family, friends, and school community, and he gains inspiration from every artist he encounters, sometimes even his students.
“I have the greatest, most supportive family and friends,” Sweeney explained. “They all believed in me and push me to keep working harder at all of my artwork. They come to my shows, watch me paint murals, and can often be seen wearing some Xø gear.”
He manages to squeeze in time with family and friends although most of the time he can be found in his home studio, creating new works of art, or planning lessons for his students at Beachland Elementary School.
Sweeney said his colleagues and the school faculty at Beachland Elementary go out of their way to support him, and his gratitude for their support and the encouragement from his students, is tremendous.
XøRobot is influenced by old cartoons, Sweeney pointed out. Specifically, old Looney Tunes and classic Disney characters.
“I love cartoons,” Sweeney stressed. “I also love street artists such as Kaws, OBEY, and Keith Haring.”
The passion Sweeney holds for the work that he does – both teaching and painting – is apparent by his artwork and the rave reviews he often gets by parents of his students, his students themselves, or from folks in the community.
“I paint because I just honestly enjoy it,” Sweeney said. “I’m my happiest self when I’m either teaching or painting. When I see my students, or families, or just random people go out of their way to take pictures with my murals, there’s no better feeling than that.”
He also added, “I can’t lie – I’ve gotten lunch at Taco Dive a couple times and just sat and watched as families took selfies with my wall.”
Sweeney also is beginning a “SmARTists” class for kids at RAW Space gallery located at 1795 Old Dixie Highway. These monthly classes are offered for $25 to children in 3rd through 6th grades. The first class is Jan. 25.