Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Art of the Brick Revisited

The art of Nathan Sawaya is so amazing we decided that even though we had previously seen the Art of the Brick exhibit in Cincinnati, we would check it out again since the exhibit was in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that much of the exhibit was the same, the opportunity to photograph a second time was more than enticing enough to go. In addition either I had forgotten many of them, or Nathan has added new ones in the last couple of years.

The exhibit still opens with a short video along with a presentation of a hand holding a single brick – keeping with the theme it starts with 1 brick.

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Many feature famed works of art including American Gothic. On this day I tried to vary the angles of the shots to give perspective to the brick work involved.

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A section called The Sculpture Garden.

We were there on a Sunday morning and the place was empty – in part I believe in the additional cost, $20 over the normal museum entrance fee. But it made for great photos without people in them.

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Tiki Man had interesting lighting for his close up.

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There were some smaller pieces on display as well.

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Ancient Egypt meets plastic bricks.

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Exhibit Name: The Human Condition

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The Lego people of the Human Condition.

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A swimmer (and a voyeur?)

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Note the amazing number of bricks to form the head.

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The Artist’s Studio. Everything, including the paintings in the background are made out of Lego’s.

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Through the Darkness.

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This piece is normally used in all of the advertising.

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Even a simple bucket is very cool when made out of Legos.

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One great feature of the exhibit in Pittsburgh was a 2nd floor balcony where you could view many of the pieces from above.

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Tiki Man is hollow!

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The Human Condition being viewed by a human.

Art of the Brick is one of the best exhibits we have ever had the opportunity to view, and it was not disappointing the second time.

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Chicago – December 2017 – Museum of Science and Industry

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was the perfect choice for another exceptionally cold December day.  Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Shore of Chicago, it is located in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.  It became the Museum of Science and Industry during the 1933 Century of Progress Worlds Fair.

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The famed ‘Christmas Around the World’ tree greets you as you arrive during the holiday season, standing 45′ tall with 30,000 lights and ‘snow’ falling twice an hour.

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My main purpose for the visit to what is essentially a children’s museum was to see the ‘Great Train Story’, a 3500 square foot HO model railroad display.

This model leads you from a large Chicago model along a 2200 mile journey to Seattle. It is located in the transportation hall, underneath a Boeing 727.

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The downtown Chicago model has many details including the El.

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When you reach Seattle it is complete with the Space Needle.

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The other exhibit I wanted to check out was the lego ‘Brick by Brick’ display. Interestingly despite all the interesting architecture in Chicago from Frank Lloyd Wright they chose to use Fallingwater, located near Pittsburgh (although it is the best architectural home in America)

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The Pyramids were represented, including a cutaway to show the interior.

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Same as with the Roman Colosseum. While the exhibits were nice, we have seen better exhibits for both the Lego’s and model railroad displays (Cincinnati History Center comes to mind, as well as Entertrainment Junction). Still it beat being outside in -2 Ft (-15 C) weather.

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Cleveland – September 2017 – Lego Convention

The new downtown Cleveland Convention Center was the site of a Lego fan convention called BrickUniverse. This show featured a number of Lego artists, as well as vendors with a large collection of specialty pieces.

As we entered the hall we were greeted by Jonathan Lopes, who had a number of very large pieces. Jonathan, a San Diego resident who used to live in Brooklyn, which was featured extensively in his grouping.

 

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Nearby was Lia Chan who specialized in Air & Space.

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There were a number of ‘paintings’ made of Lego throughout the exhibit. The detail was amazing.

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A 12′ long model of the USS Missouri had thousands of small sailors, as well as the table and dignitaries that signed the surrender terms ending World War II.

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Displayed nearby was a large collection of famed military leaders.

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Eventually I pulled out the zoom to get close ups.

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The tallest building in Cleveland is the nearly 1000′ high Key Tower. For this show King Kong was on top.

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The Eiffel Tower.

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Another of Lia’s pieces up close showing the details.

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The Moulin Rouge complete with Can Can Dancers.

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Finally a close up of Jonathan’s Woolworth Building, showing the amazing detail on the cornices.

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Columbus – November 2015 – Museum of Art – The Art of the Brick

Another cold sunny day – a good day to go to the Columbus Museum of Art. In what seems to be becoming the winter of Lego they too have a Lego exhibit, not nearly what the Cincinnati museum had, but impressive nonetheless. As we entered the Art Museum (free on Sundays!) we were greeted with Ohio Stadium out of Lego.

Another room held a Lego model of downtown Columbus, complete with most of the landmark skyscrapers, the museum itself, the State Capital, a White Castle, the Thurber House and even a Santa Maria – the replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship that was in the Scioto River for years, until they recently removed it when they renovated the riverfront.

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As we toured the other galleries we saw an exhibit of 1970s contemporary celebrities and athletes done by Warhol in the typical Warhol look, Keeping Pace: Eva Glimcher and Pace/Columbus which shows the impact on Columbus arts by Eva Glimcher, who had relocated here from New York City in the 1970s, bringing a significant increase in the local arts.

Another exhibit included a work that was mirrors stacked above and below that gave the illusion you were looking up and down a massive structure.

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After a stop for lunch at the Schokko Art Cafe (excellent food and service), we continued to an exhibit called Glass Magic, beautiful pieces of glass in various shapes and colors. We finished in the lower level where there was a display of folk art including an unusual piece that was a wooden ferris wheel with small skeletons in each seat.

As we returned to the car we tried to find one of the quirkier Roadside America sights in Columbus. Next door to the museum is CCAD, an art school. Outside the school they have a huge sculpture that spells out ART in 20′ high letters. Apparently if you stood in the parking lot of the art museum at the correct location a strategically placed telephone pole added an ‘F’ to the front of this – but unfortunately with the recent art museum expansion this telephone pole is no longer there, how disappointing.

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Cincinnati – November 2015 – Museum

On a cold sunny November day we found ourselves back in Cincinnati. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site was our first stop. Taft’s home in an area of Cincinnati near the University serves as the Presidential Center. Built around 1835 Taft was born and raised there, living there until he went off to college at Yale in 1874. Eventually the family left and the home was sold. It was re-purchased in the 1960s and restored.

In addition to the house there is a small museum and visitor center next door. The ranger opened up the house, gave us an overview of the first floor and sent us off on our own. The displays present Taft’s life and career nicely, especially given his unique positions of President and U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

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Our primary reason for coming to Cincinnati this day was to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center. The former Union Terminal is the home of the Museum Center. This remarkable building is a marvel. When built and used as a train station the incoming vehicle traffic was split into three ramps. The first ramp served taxis and cars, the second buses, and the last was for streetcars. While the streetcar line was never connected, the other two dropped passengers off on the north side ramps then proceeded under the rotunda and came up on the south side where ramps brought passengers down to the vehicles to depart.

The massive 180-foot-wide and 106-foot-tall rotunda, today the second largest half dome in the world (after the Sydney Opera House), is the primary space. When the building opened in 1933, it connected to another important space, the train concourse, a 450-foot-long structure that sat over the tracks below. Here 16 train gates connected to the platforms where passengers and baggage would be loaded or unloaded from the train. Today only 1 example of the gates remains, and it isn’t functional.

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Today the CUT operates 3 major museums (Cincinnati History Museum, Natural History & Science and the Children’s Museum), an Omnimax and the Cincinnati Railroad Club. For our visit they had set up a special exhibit called the Art of the Brick, a display using Lego’s. Created by Nathan Sawaya and featuring over 100 works of art showing masterpieces made out of Lego bricks, millions and millions of Lego bricks.

Some of the classics were represented, Greek Sculptures, Mona Lisa, American Gothic, Scream, and others, in addition to some massive original pieces. The 3-d effect the bricks gave really brought depth to the art. The well placed lighting added further.

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At the completion of the Lego art exhibit we grabbed a quick lunch before leaving with a group going on a building architecture tour. The guide took us into non public space where he described the construction challenges of the massive dome, the ventilation challenges, including the unique windows that can open, various catwalks, and the stunning lower level ice cream shop finished with Rosewood tiles (a local Cincinnati company).

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Also of note are two massive murals depicting industry and transportation in Cincinnati. Originally there were 14 of them throughout the terminal but when a major portion was being demolished 11 of them were moved to the Cincinnati Airport. Ironically with the loss of an airport hub, and subsequent closure of terminals they were in used airport terminals so now 8 of them have been moved back downtown and displayed at the Convention Center.

We moved on to the railroad company offices, completed in the classic 1930s Art Deco style. The offices, boardrooms and dining areas were magnificent. Even the current day Amtrak waiting area had an element of style to it.

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Once we completed the building tour we continued on to the Cincinnati History Museum. Immediately upon entering this wing we were greeted by a huge model of downtown Cincinnati in the 1950s, complete with running streetcars and lights, Union Terminal, Crosley Field, and all of the large buildings.

Beyond the model were a full size actual street car, a Crosley car, a complete 1800’s ‘street’ with buildings and a riverboat. Also on the lower level was the traditional Christmas Model Train exhibit, and in keeping with the theme a special Lego train village.

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Finally we went to the Control Tower for the railyard where the Cincinnati Railway Club has a display and shop. From this vantage point we could watch the active railyard with what seemed like miles of rail spur lines and sidings.

All in all the day at the museums in Cincinnati was fantastic. I couldn’t ask for more – wait I did – we stopped by Ikea on the way home and I had Swedish meatballs!

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