Friday, July 10, 2015

THE MAGIC GARDENS

If you're after an artsy but accessible Saturday afternoon activity, you can't go wrong with the Philadelphia Magic Gardens at 10th and South. A couple weeks ago I did a post here, about a random walk about I did in Philly, and many of you asked about the Magic Gardens. If you ever get here, it's definitely worth a look see.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a mosaicked visionary art environment, gallery, and community arts center that preserves, interprets, and provides access to Isaiah Zagar’s unique mosaic art environment and his public murals. The Gardens, Zagar’s largest public artwork, includes a fully tiled indoor space and a massive outdoor mosaic sculpture garden that spans half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street. Inside, one can view folk art statues, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, Zagar’s hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The installation pays tribute to Zagar’s artistic influences, along with community and personal experiences. Open to visitors daily, The Magic Gardens has become a unique Philadelphia destination, hosting year-round, low-cost public programs within its own distinctive venue. Visitors can enjoy interpretive opportunities every day in the galleries.
 
 
Zagar has devoted himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960s, when he moved to the area with his wife Julia. The couple helped spur the revitalization of the area by purchasing and renovating derelict buildings, often adding colorful mosaics on both their private and public walls. The first such project was Julia’s still-thriving folk art store, the Eyes Gallery at 402 South Street.
 
Zagar started working on the Magic Gardens in 1994 in the vacant lot nearby his studio. He began by constructing a massive fence to protect the area from harm and then spent the next fourteen years excavating tunnels and grottos, sculpting multi-layered walls, and tiling and grouting the 3,000 square foot space. The installation pays tribute to Zagar’s many artistic influences, as well as the events and experiences of his life. Included in visual anecdotes, the mosaicked walls refer to his wife Julia and sons Ezekiel and Jeremiah through playful images and words, but also includes important elements of the wider world. Las Pozas and Day of the Dead, the dance community of Philadelphia, and even the airplanes of the nationwide 9/11 tragedy are all referenced in the space. In addition, the Dog's Mother will be happy to know there are rumors of gnomes and fairies living there.

37 comments:

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    1. I don't know why, but it reminds me of possibly something you'd see in Nola, no?

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  2. I swear, after the summer , I'm so making a trip to Philadelphia this fall. I have never seen the likes of this. Seems like the perfect place for a game of I Spy.

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    1. My welcome mat is always out for you honey. I think you'd have a grand time!

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  3. A testament to creativity and a hidden gem in the heart of Philly for sure. I don't think I have ever seen that on my trips.

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  4. It's always been one of my favorite places to spend time in the city. I will often take my lunch there. If it's sunny the glass starts to shine. And I have indeed seen gnomes!!!

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  5. Having never been to Philly, when I came I was sort of hesitant at first. But then I love it. Surprises around every corner.

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    1. There is too. I still see things I have never noticed before.

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  6. I had been here for four years before a had seen it.This is a unique art installation just more than a garden. And did you know on Wednesdays they have free wine and snacks. Overall a must do, at least once.

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    1. Free wine and snacks?!?!?!? Don't tell Dagny!

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  7. WOW! How beautiful, can only imagine it in person. Knowing a bit about the artist's story gave me a whole new appreciation and understanding of the art.

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  8. This is wonderful! Thanks for the photos. I particularly like the bottles, plates (& bicycle wheels) of 3 & 5 - 5 looks like a very unruly kitchen! Photo 6 is amazing - I love that the way you've framed/positioned it makes it look like a secret passage.

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    1. Thank you Handsome DeVice! After your dragon post, I thought you my enjoy this post. And speaking of secret passages......

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  9. What an amazing place. Any ideas if the artist is still adding to it? Looks like a great place to sit and contemplate. Maybe next time you get some pictures of those gnomes and fairies.

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    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Zagar

      still amongst us lucky philadelphians!

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    2. I have a ton of pictures of fairies.....but gnomes are another matter.

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  10. I'm glad you mentioned gnomes and fairies, because my first thought on seeing the pictures was it could be the film set for a fairy story.

    I would guess you approve of fairies, but what about gnomes? Do you think gnomes have any role to play in the beautification of homes or gardens?

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! As far as the gnomes and fairies we must consult our expert, the Dogs Mother. She rises gnomes.

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  11. It is all rather beautiful, reminds me of something I saw once in Spain. Why didn't I know about this? What I like most is it also recycles a lot of items.

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  12. Walk all over the neighborhood's streets and hidden alleys. You will spot the mosaic art just about EVERYWHERE!

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    1. I have and wondered if it was the same artist. It's pretty cool.

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  13. Man, you could literally get lost in there, and stuck looking at one thing for hours.
    So cool.

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    1. I did too. You know me and shiny objects.......

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  14. Eclectic glass, haphazard paths, and ornate mosaics. One can do worse in an afternoon...

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  15. If you don't check out the beautiful murals here, then you are missing a hidden gem in Philadelphia. It was so cool to see.

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  16. What else can you say about Isaiah Zagar? He's a magic man! That is just incredible.

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  17. My goodness! Never knew such a place existed! The East is full of surprises.

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    1. And gnomes around every corner apparently.

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  18. Cool, awesome and other worldly! Your pictures are amazing and look to capture the spirit and talent of his art perfectly.

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    1. Thank you Ginger! I have the feeling you would just love the City of Brotherly Love.

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  19. Another reason I love your blog......one never knows what or who is coming next.

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  20. Now that is spectacular. Look like a drag grotto!

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    1. That could be a fun venue for a drag show, as long as the queens aren't drunk...could be very confusing.

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  21. How cool to see things like this and that someone cares and gives back to a city like that. It truly is beautiful!!!!!

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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