The Hogwarts generation likes to think it knows a thing or two about magic, but here in Bushwick, hidden in plain sight is Andrew Grey Ferguson, a sleight of hand magician who nearly gave up on his passion years ago.
For Andrew, a fascination with magic started with a man named Mark Fuller who owned a card shop in Roanoke, Virginia. He not only had the tools Andrew needed to impress his family and friends but also the know-how and VHS tapes that would teach Andrew some of his best tricks.
Andrew dabbled in juggling but found himself returning time and time again to the close-up magic of card tricks. He didn’t reveal any of his secrets to me or any of the people I’ve watched him dazzle over the past few days, but he never failed to elicit a smile from even the most taciturn hipster.
In describing what he loved about magic, Andrew listed surprising elements, such as the smell of billiard balls, the texture of felt, and the sound of a fresh deck of cards being shuffled for the first time.
He says even though the art of magic is hidden and quiet, it can leave a “lasting impression on audiences in a way that transcends any social barrier.”
It sounds like this is the kind of guy who who would never give up on an art form that took years to learn and cost him hundreds of sleepless nights and left him with dry, cracked, and bleeding palms.
But he quit when he was 15, tired of performing for others and took up painting, which he describes as a “visceral art” where process is often on display instead of the product.
Andrew returned to the art of magic years later, realizing that “we avoid what we’re good at because people start to define us by that one characteristic.” If you think that’s silly, think back to 8th grade and how enticing it was to think about the new person you would be in high school, free from all the preconceptions which affected how you were treated by friends and parents alike.
Below is a video so you can see the kind of effect magic, executed joyfully, can have.
And I encourage you to ask Andrew yourself. Not only will he probably show you a trick, but he might give you an impromptu history lesson on anything from the card rooms of the 60s and 70s to differences between a fresh deck of cards and one that has been worked for two hours.
He adds that the best way to learn magic is not on YouTube, like the youngsters are doing, but “through other people, even though magicians hold magic close to themselves.”
Featured image: Andrew with a fresh deck of cards. Photo courtesy of @tichango.