Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Art of the Brick

Sometimes I forget about art. Not, like I forget it exists, but I forget that I like it and I enjoy seeing new art. When I have free time and want to find a fun activity, I generally go toward taking a new class or trying the latest restaurant. Both which generally cost money. Even when I do remember that I like art, I generally go to a museum. (Which also usually costs a bit as well). Yesterday, I found an area of Chelsea that was a veritable goodie bag of art. In the twenties between 10th and 11th avenues lie at least fifteen different galleries (specifically on 25th) in a row with open doors to provocative displays of new works. I had a lovely FREE time spending my afternoon enjoying the works within.

I took a cab over to the Agora gallery to see an exhibit called “Brick by Brick” where an artist named Nathan Sawaya had filled a gallery with sculptures made only from legos. I walked into the gallery and looked at the woman at the front desk in anticipation of receiving some kind of instruction. She simply smiled back at me. So as not to look like a dork, I signed the guest book and started to stroll around the gallery. The collection was mostly representative of the human form in different states of “togetherness”. The sculptures, if you could call them that, were yellow, grey, red, and blue, the colors of the classic legos with which I played as a kid. Now folks, I was a ridiculously devoted lego enthusiast in my younger years. I had, literally, a suitcase full of legos and I constructed everything I could think of out of them. These sculptures in the gallery were nice, but as I strolled through the gallery, I found them slightly underwhelming. “I could do that”, I thought. And they were all for sale for significant amounts of money. One larger than life-sized lego face that had a red dot next to it (meaning sold) was priced at $10,000. Hmm . . . maybe I should get into the lego sculpting business.

I made one lap around the room and started to leave when a particular piece caught my eye. It was a grey man kneeling on a pedestal and looking to his outstretched arms. He had no hands. Below where his hands should have been were piles of grey legos. I suddenly felt sorry for Mr. Lego man. He was watching his body disintegrate. Hold on a second, I thought. I decided to make one more turn around the room. The next lego guy was missing an arm, but he was holding a lego block toward his missing arm as if to rebuild his body. The sculpture somehow had movement (a huge feat with legos) and I felt something for this guy as well. Interesting. Maybe this exhibit had more depth than I gave it credit for. I passed a man replacing his head, mini lego people climbing out of a pool of colored blocks, and a disturbing grey man very painfully removing his face. The whole exhibit seemed to have a theme of fighting an either winning or losing battle with our physical selves. So, maybe I’m not talented enough to become a lego sculptor. And perhaps this exhibit was not underwhelming.

I thanked the woman at the front desk and walked across the hall to another gallery (again, for free). Along the way, I thought of the artist (Kimberly Abbott – check her out) that I recently commissioned to create a work for my living room. I wanted to own one of her works because they have captivating movement and amazing power to generate feeling. I wondered why I assumed that legos would be any different. I suppose that a true artist can evoke emotion using any material. Even legos. I walked through the door of the next gallery. This time, I decided to look with a more open mind.

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