Magic as Art at the South Haven Center for the Arts

The South Haven Center for the Arts is pleased to announce The Art of Magic, a summer exhibition running from July 15th to September 16th, 2017, which highlights the world of performance magic and magicians in America and beyond. The exhibition will also celebrate magic heritage in our own state of Michigan.

For centuries, artists have piqued the imaginations of the public by depicting conjurers – performing magicians – to advertise shows, sell magic tricks and books, instruct magicians in the methods of secrets, express comic or political messages, even promote consumer and industrial products.

The Art of Magic explores a wide variety of historical and contemporary artifacts to make connections between the art of magic and the magic of art through early lithography, posters, prints, and other 19th and 20th century historical artifacts on loan to the SHCA. The exhibition features more than 120 artifacts drawn from private collections throughout North America. Many of the objects on display are being exhibited in public for the first time.

Artworks portraying magicians also provide examples of the artistic methods of their time periods, from etchings and engravings, to stone lithography and posters, hand-colored books and prints, postcards and chromolithography, photography, and magicians’ metal, wood, and paper tricks and apparatus.

Sometimes images of the magician are realistic, oftentimes they are fanciful. Examples of the real that are on display – originating with Vaudeville-era magician John Grdina (1885-1975) – show handcrafted apparatus used on stage such as velvet-covered, gold-fringed tables holding a wide variety of ordinary household items and mysterious props. All were used to entertain and create an air of mystery.

The exhibit is co-curated by SHCA Arts Manager Kerry Hagy, and Jim Hagy, member of the Inner Magic Circle (London) and a practicing magician for more than half a century. He has also written and lectured extensively on the history and theory of conjuring (performance magic).

Of The Art of Magic, Jim said that, “It has been a privilege to collaborate with the South Haven Center for the Arts to imagine and assemble the exhibition. The artworks, cartoons and caricatures, and handcrafted magic props provide a window not only into the lives of performing magicians across the centuries, but the creative ways in which artists have conveyed the idea of magic to a public audience.”

Mr. Hagy will open the exhibition on Saturday, July 15th and conduct gallery talks on August 1st and 6th. He will close the show on September 16th. A magic workshop for kids ages 8 to 12 will be held on Saturday, August 12 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Parents and families are invited to return at 3:00 p.m. to see what students mastered. Cost for the workshop is $20. Local South Haven students can attend the workshop for free.