Laluzapalooza is one of my favorite art shows of the year: Over a hundred artists from all over the world exhibiting so much amazing art, plus the opening is one of the best parties ever. While looking at–okay drooling over–all the art I don’t have room for in my house, a name leapt out, one I don’t normally associate with art: Mark Edward, a professional magician, psychic, and author.
I do however associate Mark Edward with La Luz de Jesus, since that’s where I first met him, and where we’ve had great discussions about psychic phenomena, chicanery, and the like. I worked for four years in an occult supply shop so I learned how “cold readings” work, how to assess a client, how to “fix conditions;” and I’ve experienced first hand what I feel are real and valid psychic and magickal events, so Mark and I have spent a lot of time talking about psychic stuff, both historical and modern, real and fake, staged and unexplainable.
I was lucky enough to attend “Seance for Dead Artists; Neon Park and Chick Strand” held at La Luz de Jesus last year and conducted by Mark, and was blown away by his skill as a sleight of hand magician (or psychic medium, depending on your point of view, and I am pretty skeptical of psychics, despite being a practicing witch myself, go figure). Mark is one of only five specially chosen and trained mediums in the history of Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle and has performed seances for fifteen years which has helped him perfect the role of spirit medium and psychic entertainer. He’s amazing, and I’ve been lucky enough since to see him perform at the Magic Castle–wow. Simply wow.
Despite our conversations about his writing, his work, and all things oogum-boogum, Mark had never told me he was also an artist, so I emailed him yesterday for details. He told me he’d started making sculpture/assemblage when he was around fourteen years old and went on to study at Cal Arts with John Baldessari as his mentor from 1970-74. Influenced by people like John Cage, Max Ernst, and the performance art of Chris Burden in his early days, the surrealist mode always pushed Mark to try new things.
While at Cal Arts I did a lot of conceptual, performance art, and a few neon sculptural pieces. Eventually I was starving and took up doing magic as my “performance art” to make money and when that took off I never looked back.
Until recently, it seems!
A professional mentalist who has worked the Magic Castle in Hollywood for over thirty years and is also on the Editorial Board of Skeptic magazine, Mark has worked with other critical thinkers to reveal the methods of psychic scamsters. And he should know– as he reveals in his biography, Psychic Blues, Confession of a Conflicted Medium, he worked for ten years as a 900-phone line psychic, while studying spiritualist churches to learn and expose their methods. Mark has written books on palmistry, mediumship, and psychism–and be prepared to have the sheets yanked off the ghosts in the corner; Mark pulls no punches, laying out scripts and plots lines for the potential psychic showman. Mark has also designed a beautiful set of the Major Arcana tarot cards (the 22 “trumps”) called Silentium and an accompanying book with “scripts” for reading, and I am totally lusting for those!
Mark has also consulted for, and appeared on, numerous television programs, including Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, NBC’s The Other Side and Psychic Secrets Revealed, The Discovery Channel’s Forces Beyond, and most recently on two episodes of The Learning Channel’s Exploring the Unknown. I appreciate that Mark nworks to expose fakes, and neither declares himself as a genuine psychic, nor gives any disclaimers. He lets his work stand on its own merit and allows each individual to arrive at their own personal conclusions, which is what his art does as well.
Using vintage laboratory glassware, metals, and mixed media, for Laluzapalooza, Mark presents two sculptures straight out of of a mad scientist’s lab, mysterious mechanical devices, a Death Ray, and Nebulizer and Charger. No home should be without one or both.
Top: Death Ray
La Luz de Jesus
4663 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90027
March 1-31, 2013.
Opening reception March 1, 8pm-11pm
A few of Mark’s tarot images from Silentium: