LEGO artists from across country displaying pieces at Columbia Convention Center

Lopes putting together one of his pieces. Karamie Sullivan photos.

There’s a group of unconventional artists from across the country and Canada, who are all in Columbia for the weekend to showcase their work. The Brick Universe LEGO Convention is being held Saturday and Sunday at the Columbia Convention Center. The exhibit will display dozens of pieces, some as long as 14 feet, made completely out of legos.

Ohio-based lego artist E.J. Bocan was setting his area up Friday afternoon. Bocan’s most attention-grabbing pieces look like actual paintings, that lay almost flat, framed against a backboard. Some of them are replicas of well-known works of art, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Bocan said his lego hobby as a child was something he just never got away from through the years. “It’s not something I actually planned, but it’s something that just kind of happened,” he said.

The average amount of time Bocan spends on each piece is about 50 hours, he said. He plans out his lego positioning on the computer, and uses that as a reference while building. Bocan said he and his wife will be doing 28 different lego conventions this year, and he loves what he does. “I always tell people, I get to travel the country, I’m my own boss, and I get to play with lego all day. So, can’t get any better than that,” he said.

Jonathan Lopes, a New York-based lego artist was also setting up his work Friday afternoon. Like Bocan, he said he began playing with legos as a child. He “got away from it” as he grew, but after getting a day job, Lopes said he needed a creative outlet, which is when he returned to legos. He chooses to make his 3-D sculptures based strictly from sketches, no computer programs.

He said the amount of time he spends on each piece varies drastically. “The building there took about five months for me to make, it’s New York City’s Woolworth building.” The Woolworth lego sculpture is about 8 feet tall.

Event organizer Greyson Beights said he was happy to bring their convention to Columbia. “We like to hit locations that I feel are kind of underserved, to bring the inspiration to them,” he said. The artists will pack their work up at the end of the weekend and everything will be transported to Dayton, Ohio for the next convention. The art will be on display Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m., and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets at the door are $18.

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