At a Lego builders convention last year in Seattle, one piece literally stood above the rest: an 8½-foot Multnomah Falls. Created by Portland Lego artist and investment firm partner Erik Mattson, the sculpture shows a column of smooth crystal water cascading below a meticulously replicated bridge crowded with smiling Lego people.

(Erik Mattson)
(Erik Mattson)

"It's not really that I'm all that great at doing it, but I'm a perfectionist," say Mattson. His Multnomah Falls took him a year to build, over the course of which he rebuilt the base five times. He estimates the sculpture probably took around 100,000 pieces to build. "I don't even know how to begin to count," he says. "Other than take it apart, and I may never take it apart." (Fragments of the sculpture are in storage boxes at Mattson's house.)

Multnomah Falls was only the third Lego sculpture Mattson ever built. More recently, he's also built a Lego Trillium Lake, complete with a Lego Mount Hood looming in the background. This year, he helped build a Lego sculpture of the Washington Park Rose Garden that was displayed for the Rose Festival.

Mattson describes himself as "out of the Lego closet," though he occasionally encounters people who dismiss his sculptural medium as childish. Still, he says, especially compared to more traditional mediums, Lego art has a wide demographic of fans. "I think it's the most appreciated art form," Mattson says. "It's just that people don't view it as an art form."