Although Philadelphia street-art may be most famous for its astonishing array of some 4000 public murals and several world-famous sculptures, the city is also home to a quirky collection of outdoor mosaic art by Isaiah Zagar. He has covered storefronts, purpose-built walls, doorways, and the fully mosaicked gallery spaces and labyrinth sculpture garden called “Magic Gardens” at 1020 South Street. Online resources include a map of the locations of Zagar’s mosaic installations in his Center City neighborhood.
Philadelphia-born Zagar assembles his elaborate designs from broken pottery, pieces of mirror, bottles, and even unexpected materials like bicycle wheels. They are a sprightly addition to the area’s staid colonial architecture, and on a sunny day wink at passersby with their color and shine. In order to make art more accessible to wider audiences and to engage more people in artistic creation, the Magic Gardens hold monthly Mosaic Mural Workshops and Family Jams.
Zagar’s work is included in the permanent collections of a number of prominent museums, and he has received numerous awards. He says his work makes reference to other visionary artists from around the world who have created memorable public art environments, such as those here. (If Philadelphia isn’t near you, perhaps the work of one of these other eccentric creatives is!)
Zagar’s son Jeremiah made a well regarded “warts and all” film about the family and Isaiah’s artistic ambitions, In a Dream.
Enlarging Your Travel Circle:
- Philadelphia is less than 50 miles away when you’re visiting Wilmington (33 miles)
- About 100 miles away when you’re in New York (96) or Baltimore (101) and
- Only 140 miles away when you’re in Washington, D.C.