Like his many fantastic creations over the years, Lonnie Hanzon is a bit of magic himself: His credits sparkle like the bejeweled Christmas trees he's shipped off, piece by piece, to Neiman Marcus in Dallas, or the meticulously detailed mechanical environments and displays he's installed everywhere from the 16th Street Mall to the chic retail compounds of Hong Kong. Throughout this carpet ride, no project's been too complicated for Hanzon and his crew -- or ensemble, as he prefers to call it.
How does this kind of perpetual-motion machine ever come to a standstill? Very deliberately, it seems: After twenty years, Hanzon says the bottom's fallen out of his empire -- hence, he's choosing to pack it all in and start over from scratch, although he's not quite certain what that means. "I won't make that decision until I'm a blank canvas," Hanzon says. "Maybe I'll do a lounge act or anonymous commercial work. I'm an adaptable guy."
In the meantime, Hanzon does have an incredible catalogue of stuff to make disappear: Bins of beads, pounds of glitter, spool upon spool of ribbon, 3,000 sets of Christmas lights in every color, a gallon of fog-making fluid, paintings, antiques, a Mona Lisa collection and several more layers and rooms full of mechanical figurines, costumes, statuary, doll parts and more. He'll make them vanish in an Emancipation Auction at his studio (also for sale) this weekend and next. But the most precious item to go on the block may be Hanzon's three-foot hank of hair, which he'll symbolically have sheared -- in one spectacular fall -- at a special public ceremony Thursday evening.
"As a work of art, I consider it the most important work in the whole show. I've been growing it for twenty years," Hanzon says. The haircutting, he adds, is meant to be all that people think it is and yet none of the above: "A scalping? Yes. A surrender? Yes. The killing of a local character? Yes. There's some tragedy there, and some comedy, but after it's done, I'll just be left with...me." Hanzon's building a reliquary to go with the hair, and there's more for some lucky bidder: "The stories," he notes, "come with the hair."
Any regrets? "Some," Hanzon laments. "But they could fit in a bottle. It was an amazing body of work, and then it was over."