Illusions at the McCord Museum

Last weekend, I was in Montreal at the McCord Museum. A group of magicians gathered because the McCord Museum was opening a new exhibit dedicated to the (literal) art of magic. In this case, this means Magic Posters.

In the so-called "Golden Age" of magic, travelling performers would have enormous promotional posters which would announce their appearance in a given town. The posters were mainly produced by a technique called stone lithography, which allowed for stunning multi-coloured billboard-sized images to be produced. One of the largest collections of these posters was donated to the McCord Museum by La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso. These posters were recently put on display in Illusions: The Art of Magic

It's difficult to get a sense of the size and vibrance of the images from photos. The collection really needs to be seen in person to be believed. (That's magic for you!) Here is a small preview courtesy of the McCord:

There's also a gorgeously produced catalog reproducing 230 of the posters in the collection along with historical essays that I'm in the process that I'm in the process of working through. 

The Allan Slaight Awards

Saturday night, as part of a special gala show concluding the 44th Magic Collectors Weekend in Montreal, Magicana presented the Allan Slaight Awards. The awards, now in their third year, were created by the Slaight Family Foundation to honour Allan Slaight. A deeply passionate magician who is better known to the world at large through his work in broadcasting, he is now in his eighties, his idea of a quiet Canadian retirement involves quietly donating millions of dollars each year to various healthcare and arts organizations. 

The awards recognize the best in magic with $50,000 a year in prizes. There are awards for performances for the public and also those who advance the craft, publishing reference material within the field. In the two years the awards have been given previously, some of my favourite magicians have received the awards, including Penn & Teller. 

For the first two years, the awards were presented a private dinner. This is the first time they have been open to see. The winners were:

Max Maven
Lifetime Achievement - $15,000

Derek DelGaudio
Sharing Wonder - $15,000

John Lovick
Sharing Secrets - $10,000

Edward Hilsum
International Rising Star - $5,000

Eric Leclerc
Canadian Rising Star - $5,000

David Ben, John Lovick, Max Maven, Edward Hilsum, Julie Eng - Photo by David Linsell

David Ben, John Lovick, Max Maven, Edward Hilsum, Julie Eng - Photo by David Linsell

This year, I was backstage for the show, so I had a slightly different perspective. For example, here is John Lovick who won the award for Sharing Secrets for a book he wrote in collaboration with Handsome Jack, the world's foremost male model magician. He's having a slight wardrobe malfunction.

Handsome Jack with his pants down... don't ask. 

Handsome Jack with his pants down... don't ask.