A million little pieces: LEGO exhibit arrives at Kimball Art Center | ParkRecord.com

A million little pieces: LEGO exhibit arrives at Kimball Art Center

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

One of the goals of any artist is to move people. And that’s exactly what Nathan Sawaya does: he moves them right back to their childhood, back to the spot where they played with their toys and were inevitably scolded for not returning things to their rightful place.

Sawaya’s parents must have been well accustomed to scolding, or maybe they recognized their son’s creative genius and decided to let nature run its course. As a child, Sawaya developed a penchant for LEGOs, the miniature, multicolored toy building blocks. He built entire cities in his parents’ living room, and as he grew, his talent grew with him into a seven-foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, life-size sculptures of his favorite characters, and other grand-scale renditions.

As an adult, Sawaya has made a career out of his childhood obsession. His LEGO masterpieces have been transformed into traveling art installations, and starting this weekend, Parkites will have a chance to view his work in the Main Gallery of the Kimball Art Center.

In addition, Sawaya himself will be present for the grand opening of the exhibition on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The artist will greet visitors and sign exhibition catalogs. Brunch will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

"The Art of the Brick" features 29 of Sawaya’s three-dimensional sculptures and oversized mosaic portraits. The exhibit showcases some of the artist’s most impressive creations, constructed from nearly one million standard-size bricks. Besides appealing to kids (and the kid in everyone), the intricacy and innovation of Sawaya’s designs are guaranteed to awe and inspire people of all ages.

"I think everyone has an affection for and some sort of association with LEGOs, whether they played with them when they were little, or their siblings did, or they’re a parent and stumble on them in the middle of the night," says Erin Linder, director of exhibitions at the Kimball Art Center. "The appeal is that it relates to people of all ages."

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Linder heard about Sawaya around the time of his first solo exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art in Pennsylvania. Since then, his work has been featured at museums and galleries across North America. "Every show he’s done has been a huge success," says Linder. "He’s growing in popularity and notoriety."

According to Corinne Humphrey, PR coordinator at the Kimball, bringing the exhibit to Park City is part of an effort to reach out to those outside of the art community. "We’re trying to bring in national shows to appeal to a wider audience," she says.

The art center has also scheduled events during the exhibition that complement Sawaya’s artistic concept. "We have a really strong education focus so I thought there would be a lot of fun things we could do education-wise," explains Linder.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m., the Kimball will host an art talk with Hank Louis, a professor of architecture at the University of Utah, principal owner of Gigaplex Architects and founder of Design Build Bluff, a nonprofit organization that builds homes on the Indian reservation in Bluff, Utah. Entitled "Brick by Brick," the talk will cover the logistic and artistic aspect of creative building design. The talk is free and open to the public.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, from 12:30 to 5 p.m., the center will host a LEGO building contest with a theme of pop culture in Utah. Eight teams of four builders will be chosen to compete against each other in designing a LEGO sculpture in four hours or less. Judges will select the winners, and the top three creations will be displayed in the Garage Gallery. The contest is open to anyone in Utah and applications are available by contacting Jenny Dierson at 649-8882 or education@kimballartcenter.org .

"The Art of the Brick" exhibit will remain on display through Nov. 15. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. For more information about Sayawa and his work, visit http://www.artofthebrick.com . For more information about the exhibit and upcoming events at the Kimball Art Center, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.