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Lego artist wins 'Art Visionary Award' from Menlo Park nonprofit

Art in Action to present award March 23

An artist who claims toys as his artistic medium has been named the 2017 recipient of the "Art Visionary Award," presented by Art in Action, a Menlo Park-based nonprofit that teaches students in grades K-8 about art.

The award will be given to Nathan Sawaya, who makes sculptures from Lego plastic bricks. According to a statement by Art in Action, Sawaya is also an advocate for arts education.

In a TEDx talk, Sawaya said that a transformative experience for him was when he was about 10 years old and his parents told him he couldn't get a dog. In response, he built his own life-size dog out of Legos. It was a little rectangular, he said, so he called it a "boxer," naturally.

He said he later became a corporate lawyer in New York City, but pursued art outside of work before landing on Legos as his medium of choice. He launched a website and began accepting commissions before pursuing Lego art full-time.

Now, his works are displayed in a traveling exhibition called "The Art of the Brick," which is currently in Rome and Portland, Oregon, and will go to Moscow and London next, according to his website. He founded the Art Revolution Foundation and has worked on projects to help children learn about art history by recreating famous artwork out of Legos.

The award will be presented at Art in Action's annual benefit, which will be held Thursday, March 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Computer History Museum at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Mountain View. The nonprofit is selling tickets and event sponsorships. The event will have hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, tastings by Rocket Vodka, and live and silent auctions.

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