In the Limelight

The work of visual designer (and Resident Wizard at the Museum of Outdoor Arts) Lonnie Hanzon is often fueled by the ephemeral, lost in time and tinged with the brown edge of a daguerreotype. And that’s no accident. Hanzon’s own fascination with the toys and media of a bygone time — from the clockwork-driven mechanical automata of the Belle Époque to the Victorian magic lantern, an early slide projector that was loaded with hand-painted glass slides — clearly inspires his luscious, over-the-top department-store Christmas displays and animated Parade of Lights floats. A born collector, Hanzon’s amassed hundreds of the antiquated magic lantern slides, a per-sonal obsession that’s grown since he first discovered them at an estate auction. The slide images, many of them reused and digitally repurposed for modern use, are the subject of a new exhibit, Magic Lantern, currently on display at the MOA.

“It seems to fit in with the whole neo-Victorian thing that the new generation is discovering,” he says of the nearly extinct phenomena. “It was a romantic period, and it’s interesting to look at it in comparison to where we are right now. Their lives were incredibly slower than ours, but of a much higher quality. There was a lot less stuff: Imagine a guy with a backpack, bringing these images to a village somewhere. I have more in my iPhone than he ever saw in his life.” Among his favorites are slip slides, which utilize multiple pieces of glass to simulate movement, and spiraling mandala-like chromothropes: “Imagine one of those spinning in the flickering light of limelight or kerosene…that would have been pretty trippy.”

Magic Lantern remains on view at MOA, 1000 Englewood Parkway in Englewood, through February 13. For details, go to or call 303-806-0444.
Mondays-Fridays. Starts: Nov. 6. Continues through Feb. 13, 2008

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd