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LEGO exhibits pop up throughout Grand Strand

By: Peggy Mishoe, The Sun News
July, 7, 2016

The Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum and Brookgreen Gardens are featuring awesome art exhibits created with LEGO blocks.

At the Art Museum, The Art of the Brick® features large-scale LEGO® brick sculptures by Nathan Sawaya. In addition to the one-of-a-kind exhibition, there are interactive areas including Brick Boulevard, a LEGO brick building area, an Art of the Brick photo booth, film screenings of Brickumentary, a community-built LEGO mural of the Myrtle Beach skyline and more.

On his Facebook page on the Internet, and in interviews with outlets such as National Public Radio, Sawaya talks about how he got started as a LEGO artist while working as a corporate lawyer. He needed down time after work so he would draw or paint. One day, he thought about LEGOS — toys he enjoyed as a child. His creative abilities with LEGOS were obvious even then. When his parents wouldn’t let him have a dog, he built a life-sized Boxer with the little bricks (blocks).

Remembering his old LEGO toys, he said he dug up all the old ones he had and began building items he saw in his apartment. He put them on a web page, and people started asking him to make items for them. When his website crashed from too many hits, he knew there was something there. In 2004, he left his job as an attorney to work full time as a LEGO artist.

At times when he did not have a commissioned piece of LEGO art to make, he created things that he wanted to make. Those pieces became the exhibit “The Art of the Brick” that tours the globe.

Numerous pieces of his art are based on famous sculptures and paintings.

Sawaya buys hundreds of thousands of LEGOS every month. He spent three months creating a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that is over 20 feet long and includes 80,000 bricks.

The “Art of the Brick” is the first major museum exhibition in the world to focus exclusively on the use of LEGO building blocks as an art medium. Sawaya said he does not alter or paint the bricks, but uses them just as they are when he buys them.

He sticks with what LEGO has made, hoping to inspire kids to go purchase them and create their own art. Brookgreen Gardens is hosting “Nature Connects,” 12 larger-than- life LEGO brick sculpture installations in its Native Wildlife Zoo that were created by created by artist and children’s book author Sean Kenney. According to Brookgreen, “Nature Connects” is an award winning exhibit currently touring the country. Made with almost a half million LEGO bricks, the sculptures bring nature to life. The exhibit is open daily and included in garden admission. It features interpretive panels with an educational message for each sculpture to help children connect with the natural world and promote conservation. There are educational activities such as sculpture building contest, scavenger hunts and LEGO bricks available for guests to play with while there.

The Art Museum is at 3100 South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach.

Admission by donation. For more information, call 238-2510. Brookgreen Gardens is at 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet. Call 235-6000.

Peggy Mishoe,

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Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.