Thursday, October 22, 2009

Philadelphia's Magic Garden

Philadelphia's Magic Garden is located at 1020-1022 South Streeet, Philadelphia, PA

Today, Tara and I joined several teachers, students and parents from Commonwealth Connections Academy, the virtual school Tara is attending, on a visit to Philadelphia's Magic Garden.

I was not familiar with PMG, all I knew of it was what I read on the website, and I was intrigued, and I made the decision that Tara and I would be attending this field trip! I'm always ready to explore new places and an opportunity to get out with my camera!

What started as man using his art to beautify a run down neighborhood, has turned into a non profit organization to preserve and promote his works. The community came together to purchase the property when the owner decided to sell in the mid 90s.

I don't have the words to describe the visual and tactile experiences of the day! Wall, floors and ceilings covered in beautiful mosaics made with mostly found or recycled materials. Pieces of mirror throughout the designs brought life to the space. Reflecting those who were visiting as well as other parts of the gallery. There were designs within designs. Some things you need to look at close up, while others you had to step back to see the big picture, like using a macro lens and then a wide angle lens.

Here is a slideshow with all the photos I took today. While I took photos, and I am happy with them, they REALLY do not do the artwork justice.

After we visited two floors of the gallary, we headed to the gardens outside. What started out years ago as a trash filled lot is now a work of artistic genius, turning neighborhood "trash" into artistic treasures. Colored bottles reflected the sun breaking through the morning clouds. Bike tires, broken or unwanted china and pottery, toys, and so much more were embedded in these lot sized masterpiece.

The art work of Isaiah Zagar does not stop at the walls of the gallery, you will find his mosaics at over 55 mosaics around the city, as well as other states and even Mexico. Isaiah is 70 years old. This is the artist riding by us on the street. (edited to add - I'm just looking at this picture again and noticing that he is colored coordinated with the rusts and blues in the mosaic behind him!)

He portrays himself in his art as having 4 arms. He is a gifted artist, seemingly obsessed with his work. I think I would love to spend a day inside his head to see how it works.

There was an award winning documentary recently shown on HBO - "In A Dream" created by Isaiah's son. I have not seen this but will be seeking it out. I want to learn more about this man, his life and his family!

On 9/11 Isaiah was working on a mural in another neighborhood when he heard the news of the planes hitting the twin towers. He rushed back to the studio to see how everyone was doing, he then created this piece as a remembrance. He shows the 4 planes attacking the world, not just NY, DC and PA, because he felt it was an attack against the world, not just the US.

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.

I could continue on and on about what we saw today,however, I was so totally overwhelmed visually by what I saw today, I can't seem to be succinct enough in my words to make sense! While this was school field trip, and Tara did enjoy the day, I was certainly more emotionally moved than she!

I have a list of his works throughout the city, I may try to scan it and link it to this post in case anyone would be interested in exploring the streets of Philadelphia. I have been wanting to go in search of the painted murals that Phila. is known for, and now I have something else!


Menopausal New Mom said...

Absolutely breathtaking and so inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful art by Isaiah Zagar, someone I would probably never have heard of without your post.

James said...

What cool place. I love the photos. This looks like a must see. There are so many cool things to see in Philadelphia

WOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Sorry about that the Angels just beat the Yankees. :)

Joanie M said...

I've never heard of this museum before! I'll have to tell john about it.

Lucy the Cat said...

Thanks for sharing your day. Your enthusiasm is catching! This is really interesting. You got a lot of great pics!


Carletta said...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place.

Crafty Green Poet said...

It looks like a wonderful and inspiring place,

Rebecca said...

Interesting place and great for photo ops! My daughter was there with her photography class a few years back. I've never been though.