Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
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The creator of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, Isaiah Zagar, used handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, and international folk art to chronicle his life and influences. In 1991, Zagar started working on the vacant lots located near his studio at 1020 South Street. He first mosaicked the buildings on either side of the property, then spent years sculpting multi-layer walls out of found objects. In 2004, the Boston-based owner of the lots discovered Zagar’s installation and decided to sell the land, calling for the work to be dismantled. Unwilling to witness the destruction of the now-beloved neighborhood art environment, the community rushed to support the artist. His creation, newly titled Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, quickly became incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the intention of preserving the artwork at the garden site and throughout the South Street region. Zagar then developed the site even further, excavating tunnels and grottos.
In 2008, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens opened to the public, and visitors can now participate in tours, art activities, hands-on interpretive experiences, workshops, concerts, exhibitions, and much more. The space is made up of two indoor galleries and a bi-level outdoor sculpture garden. As a nonprofit museum, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens celebrates art in its many forms and welcomes everyone to explore the space and embrace the possibility of self-expression.