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The Art of the Brick at the Alamance County Arts Council

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LEGO bricks play a big part in my family. When H and I started dating in college, the love for LEGOs was one of the first things we realized we had in common. So of course, when we had kids, we passed this love to our kids. All 3 of our kids build with them. Every Christmas and birthday brings more LEGO sets. We have a dedicated LEGO room in our house. In other words, we love LEGOs.

So when I got this tweet last week, it piqued my interest.

The Art of the Brick is a exhibition of artwork created out of LEGO bricks by artist Nathan Sawaya. This exhibition travels around the world and it is right here in North Carolina! I found out that not only was this exhibit close by in Graham, NC (about 40 minutes away from our house) but it was FREE. That’s right people, FREE. This exhibit in other cities cost up to $25. A pretty awesome deal to say the least.

I admit, even though I’ve been here in North Carolina for over 5 years now, I have spent very little time west of Chapel Hill. Sure, I go out to Mebane every once in awhile for the outlets and I have journeyed out to Asheville quite a bit, but the miles between Mebane and Asheville are foreign to me.

First on the artist, Nathan Sawaya. This guy was a lawyer who quit his job to become a master LEGO builder and then got commissions to do custom LEGO art pieces and now is a world renown artist. Check out this great video.

Pretty neat right?

I have seen some of his LEGO creations before in photographs and was pretty psyched to see them in person. We decided to surprise the kids after their soccer games on saturday and head over to the exhibition. We realized that we planned it well as this weekend was the “Alamance Arts Council Brick Fan Fest”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant but I was excited regardless.

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Basically this thing Brick Fan Fest consisted of 4 main attractions: The Art of the Brick Exhibit in the historic Captain White House, A tent with a bunch of LEGO enthusiasts showing off their creations, some additional LEGO art pieces at the children’s museum next door, and a video presentation at the library next door to that.

It sounds like a crazy awesome 4 ring circus of amazingness but I’m going to give you the real scoop.

The Art of the Brick Exhibition

This exhibit as I mentioned, was free. But I would have totally paid some money for it. There are some pretty awesome art pieces here and there are also some duds (in my humble opinion). There are the very famous ones like these:
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But there were also some pieces that seemed to be there simply to flesh out the exhibition. Ones like this:
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I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is impressive, but not super spectacular when they are hanging next to pieces like this:
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It was neat to see the artwork hanging in a house setting not a sterile art gallery or art museum setting. The staff was courteous, attentive, and knowledgeable. And the entire operation was well-run.

The Art of the Brick Exhibition (Continued)

There were a few more art pieces at the children’s museum next store. If you are just going to see the LEGO art you do not have to pay for the museum. This room had some pretty neat “kid-related” art pieces and were probably our favorites overall.
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Alamance Arts Council Brick Fan Fest

Basically “Fan Fest” consisted of a tent with some demonstrations, and exhibits. The kids really liked this part too because they could build some stuff there.
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My kids, in particular liked the Star Wars sets. My sons have been lusting after the LEGO Star Wars Death Star and Millenium Falcon so to see it built and in-person was exciting to them.
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LEGO video at the Library

When we first arrived at the exhibit we were told that there was a 7 minute video that was playing on a loop at the library next door. We were excited about the possibility of learning more about the artist Nathan Sawaya. Instead, what we got was a series of student-films on LEGO related topics ranging from the silly to the downright drug influenced. I mean some of these videos were so abstract that it felt like a college art house film festival. I’m not quite sure what the point was. Also, because it was in a library the sound was painfully quiet.

This was by far the worst part of the event but because it was all free it didn’t bother us much. And it wasn’t like it was a bad thing. It was just not up tot he level of awesomeness the rest of the day brought.

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This collection of LEGO sculptures by Nathan Sawaya is a must-see! It is a fun activity for kids and adults, inspires creativity, and did I mention, FREE?!! Make sure to check it out before it leaves at the end of October!

My family and I were so inspired that we came home and built stuff with our LEGOs into the late evening. I made this Freezerburns-inspired LEGO sculpture!
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Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick® will open at the Alamance County Arts Council’s Captain White House and the Children’s Museum of Alamance County in August and run daily through October, 2013

Gregory Ng

GOAL: Visit 100 National Parks as a family by 2020. Favorite Parks: Zion National Park, Mt Rainier National Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park

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