Kathleen A. Foster
The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art
and Director, Center for American Art. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Founder and Director, American Visionary Art Museum
Mosaicist Isaiah Zagar toiled for over a decade on Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, an all-encompassing art installation in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic South Street district. The mosaics cover half a block, bursting out of confinement to splash walls, ceilings, and excavated floors with glass, tiles, mirrors, folk art, and found objects.
Begun in 1991 in a vacant lot, Zagar’s artwork, much like rest of Philadelphia’s public art, was an attempt to beautify the otherwise derelict city landscape. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens eventually became a rallying point for the community, a dazzling symbol of unity among the citizens of South Street that championed preservation and artistic expression.
Zagar himself, an award-winning mosaic artist, is well known for his mosaics across the world. Visitors to Philadelphia can find his art covering over 200 walls across the city. Heavily influenced by his travels around Peru, China, India, and a host of other countries, Zagar’s art combines colors and textures in a fusion of ideas that demand admiration from passersby.
Never before has the beauty of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens been collected in a single photobook. Expertly photographed, this volumes features over 100 full-color images of the site as well as a detailed description by the Executive Director.
As a nonprofit, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens places great value in its mission to inspire the community with boundless creativity. This book makes it possible for those outside the region to share the inspiration.