Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden
1020–22 South St., 215/733-0390
HOURS: Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
COST: $3 suggested donation
In the 1960s, a group of young artists moved into a run-down section of South Street and helped transform the neighborhood into something beautiful.
At the forefront were Isaiah Zagar and his wife, Julia, who returned from the Peace Corps in 1969 and opened the Eyes Gallery at 4th and South Streets to sell the textiles, woodcarvings, and ceramics they collected in South America. They decorated their store with anything and everything they found in the neighborhood, especially the many pieces they discovered in an abandoned glass warehouse.
Isaiah began creating mosaics with a variety of materials—glass in particular—and hasn’t stopped since.
Isaiah’s trademark mosaics can be seen all over the city on homes, businesses, and in murals, but the pinnacle is his beautiful, trippy home and studio—the Magic Garden. Every square inch has been covered with colorful tiles, bottles, mirrors, and other everyday materials to create an abstract collage.
A walk down nearby South Street or Bainbridge Street between 3rd and 11th Streets will reveal more of Zagar’s unmistakable public works of art.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition