When you walk around the city of Philadelphia, especially South Philly, you can find strips of gorgeous public art illuminated with mosaics. Most people who see the curiously placed mosaics stop and admire them for a bit, and others who pass by the works of art every day still have their head turn- especially when the sun hits the designs in just the right way. Those gorgeous works of art are from Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens creator Isaiah Zagar, and this upcoming week happens to hold Zagar’s birthday. To celebrate this joyous occasion the PMG is hosting a special celebration honoring Zagar next Monday, March 18.
Celebrate the man behind the magic at Philadelphia’a Magic Gardens this week
Zagar came to the City of Brotherly Love in the late 1960s and began what would be called the “South Street Renaissance”. Zagar and his wife helped kickstart the revitalization of the area by reinvigorating dilapidated buildings and adding colorful mosaics on both private and public walls. Years later, Zagar continued to showcase his work in vacant lots on South Street near his studio. In 2004 the owner of the lots Zagar was working on decided to sell the land and ultimately dismantle the work. Instead of allowing his work to be destroyed Zagar and the community helped save the works of art, and the preserved area became Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Now the immersive mixed media art environment is completely covered with intricate mosaics made from handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, and international folk art. The Magic Gardens have been open to the public since 2008 and folks from around the country, and the world, have flocked to the space to admire Zagar’s masterpieces.
The Gardens are honoring the man who started it all for his 80th birthday with a party on the 18th and some fun celebrations throughout this week. Visitors can head to the Gardens this week to sign Zagar’s giant birthday card to wish the artist a happy birthday and other well wishes. Then on Monday the 18th, the Gardens will be serving up cake to celebrate and PMG will also be raffling off an original Zagar mosaic while also hosting Golden Sunrise NYA Captain Michael Carwile and his spectacular mosaicked Mummer’s costume from 12-1pm. Some may have caught Carwile’s magnificent suit at the 2019 Philadelphia Mummers Parade where the 75-pound work of art was debuted.
If you want to honor Zagar and the gorgeous Magic Gardens head there this week and next Monday to show your support, appreciation and admiration for the artist who inspired many with his meaningful work.