Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Philadelphia´s Magic Gardens

I didn´t know about the existence of this place, until I shared a picture from Pinterest. Whoever pinned it, left little information about the picture, and the reference was ¨Philly¨ what I figured out Philadelphia???
But the artist´s name, Isaiah Zagar, showed up immediately in Google.
I was moved by the story of the place, more than the folk art, and it´s funny but not so intellectual-artistic from my point of view.
Here, an excerpt from the web page and pictures that I´ve selected:

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens (PMG) 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 Magic Gardens site, Zagar's largest 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, visitors 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, PMG has become a unique Philadelphia destination, hosting year-round, low-cost public programs within its own distinctive venue and the surrounding community. PMG, a nonprofit organization, inspires creativity and community engagement by educating the public about folk, mosaic, and visionary art. (....)

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. (...)

In 2002, the Boston-based owner of the once-vacant lot located at 1022-1026 South Street decided to sell the land in response to rising South Street property values. Unwilling to witness the destruction of Zagar's neighborhood art environment, the community rushed to support the artist. His creation, newly titled Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, became incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the intention of preserving and promoting Zagar's works at the site of the Magic Gardens and throughout the South Street region. 

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is now a permanent art institution that is open to visitors throughout the year. Trained guides are available to lead tours of the Magic Gardens and Zagar's surrounding public murals. In addition, PMG offers monthly mosaic workshops led by Zagar himself, and regularly hosts concerts, dance performances, and other public events.

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