I Hear That Hot Wax Hurts

By: Matt Foss, assistant director on March 5th, 2014

I have an uncle with only nine and a half fingers. It’s not a congenital affliction. Nor is it (as he insists) the result of wrestling with a carnivorous animal. It was a circular saw that claimed half of his left index finger.

Since the incident, he uses his absent appendage as a gimmick. He gives nephews and nieces a “high 4 ½,” and one of his specialties is using the disfigured digit for parlor tricks. The old “disappearing finger act” has graced many Thanksgiving dinners. While able to complete tricks because of his excommunicated extremity, he lacks the skills of professional magicians who perform magic without the aid of a job-site accident.

Through Sunday, Lou Lepore, a professional magician from the Fox Valley, leads programs for all ages at the Woodson Art Museum. This week, Lepore is teaching area students introductory magic tricks and sleight-of-hand techniques during class visits to the Museum. On Saturday, he will preside over “Family Magic Day,” an intergenerational family program during which participants learn and perform magic together.

Magician-in-residence Lou Lepore

The Museum and Lepore believe in the power of magic to break down barriers. This week’s programs at the Woodson not only offer fun, safe, educational opportunities for families, but also opportunities to enhance social skills. For introverts, magic can make a bashful person gregarious. When perusing the history of magic, it’s common to find that some of the world’s most famous magicians grew up as shy children.

Magician Mike Von Schroeder entertains at the members preview.

Whether it’s a card trick, quarter behind the ear, or a rabbit out of a hat, the art of illusion fascinates us. Lou Lepore’s residency and the exhibition Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem prove that. Compared to what’s at the Woodson Art Museum this week, my uncle can’t hold a candle. Not an easy task for him anyway . . .

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