Travel: Philadelphia’s Mosaicked Magic Gardens

August 9, 2017 No Comments
I took so many photos in and around the Magic Garden in Philadelphia that I felt it needed it’s own post and it seemed appropriate to pop it live now, whilst I’m working on the actual Philly trip post. 
This shiny mosaic world was something else entirely. Something bizarre and wonderful and inspiring. From the minute we spotted our first piece in an alleyway, I was captivated by the beauty of the multicoloured walls adorning the neighbourhood.  


After a few hours of seeing the beautiful walls around us I
started googling the mosaic walls in Philly to be told they were the work of
artist Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden. I also learnt there was a whole space
dedicated to his work, just round the corner from our apartment.
The Magic Garden is a continuation of the work that Zagar
started in the 1960’s on the walls of ‘South Street’. These are the mosaics
that we were spotting, and in 1994, I’m guessing after running out of wall
space, Zagar started to create the Magic Garden on a vacant lot near his house
using the objects he was finding around him. But in 2002, when the people who
owned the land tried to sell it and wanted to tear down the garden the
community raised the funds to buy the space and turn it into a museum of his
work. 

Spanning half a block, the museum includes an immersive
outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. Zagar created the space using
nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle
wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering
mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that
refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the
wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists
and environments.

We were lucky enough to pop in on a day when Zagar was there
doing a talk, so we did hear him chat for a few minutes about his work and his
artistic inspiration. But mostly we just wandered round the majestic shiny lot
that he’d created!

I just love how he’s managed to turn junk he’s found on the streets – bottles, tyres, pottery, mirrors, pipes and knickknacks into something so glistening and colourful! 
And just look at the beautiful walls we found out in the wilds of the South Street and surrounding neighbourhoods. There were mosaics on shop fronts and school sides, and houses and garages and down alleyways and by the side of road. 
Finding random hidden gems like this might be one of my favourite things about our holidays.
Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and mosaic EVERYTHING?

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