A few weeks ago, I was walking in the Americana in Glendale and I came across a huge poster advertising artist Nathan Sawaya's new exhibit, The Art of The Brick. The slick advertising and placement at the Americana initially led me to believe that this was an exhibit at LACMA, MOCA or some trendy gallery. Nope, Sawaya's sculptures made from Lego bricks are on display at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have disdain for Forest Lawn Glendale. However, having recently spent a fantastic day at Legoland Windsor, I wanted to see more Lego sculptures. I was keen to check out this exhibit.
I'm glad it was free and glad it was local.
We spent more time driving to Forest Lawn ( and we living within walking distance) than we did exploring the exhibit.
It's very, very small.
I have mixed feelings about it. Sawaya is undeniably talented, but nothing in his exhibit was anywhere near as spectacular as what we saw in Legoland. In fact, he had a smaller version of Mount Rushmore that was exactly the same as the one that we saw at Legoland Windsor. It was the first thing that we encountered in the exhibit and it set the tone for an underwhelming experience.
Sawaya's art is very different than the pieces at Legoland. It's much darker and most of the pieces had to do with the human form. Several pieces had missing limbs, spilling guts or flayed skin. It reminded me of Gunther Von Hagen's Body Worlds Exhibit. This isn't an exhibit aimed at kids. A majority of it is creepy and unsettling.
I feel like this exhibit would have been better as part of a group exhibition. It didn't stand on its own. I think Sawaya's contribution would have been more meaningful in context with other artist doing similar things. Maybe an exhibit of favorite childhood toys re-imagined. I'm sure that there are artists out there doing cool things with Lincoln Logs and Light-Brites.
When I go to an art exhibit, the general vibe of the space does a lot to affect how I feel about the art. Several years ago, I went to MOCA's Art in the Streets exhibition and I feel like a similar type of large scale exhibition could be done with toys. Sawaya's sculptures would be much more suited to that type of venue, rather than the very subdued and somber Forest Lawn Museum. This was a very small exhibit in an awkward venue. Nothing about it felt right.
if you live very close to Forest Lawn Glendale, go check it out. Otherwise, I highly recommend spending your time elsewhere.