Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Visiting Philadelphia's Magic Gardens


Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is, well, magic. It beckons you from the outside - mosaic work spills out onto the streets surrounding it, mirrored pieces catching the sun, urging you on. 
By the time you reach the gates, it's like you're walking in of your own volition. 
And when you get in, wherever you are, it's like standing inside of art. It's above you, it's below you, it's around you, it's in the bathroom with you. 
There's so much to look at, you can stand in one spot for quite a while soaking it all in. I like art that you can identify some part of yourself in. You can do that literally and figuratively here. 
The art comes on strong...it's outspoken, a little broken, a little gritty, a bit pieced together...basically it's reflective of the city of Philadelphia itself. 
Which is easily explained, given the artist's origins and choice of home. The creator of the art, Isaiah Zagar, is a mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on more than 200 public walls throughout Philadelphia (neighborhood mural map here) and around the world. Born here and raised in Brooklyn, Zagar and his wife returned to Philly after college (Pratt Institute for Zagar) and a three year stint in the Peace Corps to settle in and create and inspire the art world. 

He began creating what would become Philadelphia's Magic Gardens on the vacant lots near his South Street Studio in 1994. In 2002 the Boston-based owner of the lots discovered the installation and decided to sell the land, attempting to force the dismantling of the installation. The surrounding community swelled in support and the Magic Gardens became a nonprofit, preserving the art at the site and throughout the area. The moral of the story: don't fuck with Philly's art. 

If you go:
  • Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is at 1020 South Street, on South between 10th & 9th
  • Wednesday to Monday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., closed Tuesday
  • Adults $10, Students w/ ID/Seniors 65+ $8, Children 6-12 $5, Children 5 + under free
  • Line forms out front if there are too many people inside
  • Directions and parking, click here
  • The space also has events like Garden Sips on second Wednesdays in the summer, Twilight in the Gardens with music and tours on fourth Fridays April through October, Crafts with a Kick, Public Tours, Mosaic Workshops, temporary art Exhibitions, and more
And I think you should go and ramble around in there. The pictures don't do it justice. 


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27 comments:

  1. Lovely Mosaic work. We have a garden too displaying similar work...ROCK GARDEN in Chandigarh, India.

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    1. That's awesome that you have something like that there!

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  2. This is beautiful..."Outspoken, a little broken, a little gritty, a bit pieced together"...perfectly stated. Pinning this for future reference. Thanks for sharing this, Steph!

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  3. Super pretty pictures. Will have to add this to my Philly list!

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  4. Wow, it looks gorgeous!! I'd love to go to Philadelphia someday (and it's not TOO far from Eastern Canada, really!), so I'm going to add this to my list of things to see!! So unique!

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  5. I would eat that place up!!!! I love that a line could form because its so crowded :) GO ART!

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  6. That's pretty fascinating.
    Reminds me of the City Museum in St. Louis, with the mosaics and artwork.

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  7. this looks so cool, and the events that they have sound really fun and interesting. love the art in the bathroom, and that the place is reflective of Philly itself. how cool. i'm not super into art in the way that people are when they are into art, but i could totally enjoy something like this. you make me want to see if there is anything like that around here.

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  8. This is beautiful! I may just have to add this to my list of things to see while road tripping out that way this summer!

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  9. omg, I love it!!!!! That looks like such a beautiful, fun day! I love these beloved grass roots city staples.

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  10. That's amazing the community helped to keep his work alive and it's become such a huge attraction today. I do love mirrored art.

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  11. Such a beautiful and fun spot, and very reasonably priced! I'm sure I'd also enjoy the garden sip events :)

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  12. I have never heard of this, but seriously, how cool!! I love urban art and love how much it can brighten up a city and really add to it's character so i would love visiting here!

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  13. What a crazy place! I love that he just started it and everyone jumped on board to protect it and love it! That's really awesome :)

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  14. I cannot believe that I have never been here and I have spent so much time in Philly. Totally adding this place to go next time I'm in Philly. Oh man I love South Street, they use to have so many good shops.

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  15. This is such a cool spot and makes for some really great pictures!!

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  16. This looks amazing! What a fun little spot to takes some photos too!

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  17. I love the Magic Gardens so much! You did an excellent job of capturing the look and feelings of being inside of it; like you're actually a part of it. I'm so glad that the city/community loved it enough to save it as well.

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  18. We were supposed to go to Philadelphia a few months ago and this was high up on my things to do list! Such a cool place! If we ever end up going, I'll definitely visit the gardens.
    Xo, Evelina @ Fortunate House

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  19. This looks so fun! I really need to plan another Philly trip.

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  20. That looks like such a fun place to visit, and it's awesome that it's so unique to Philly! I bet that I could spend hours upon hours just marveling at his amazing works of art!

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  21. I've never been to Magic Gardens but I've always admired it and need to get there! The guy who did my tattoo actually got married there and I was obsessed with his wedding pictures.

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  22. Philly really does have some of the most interesting public art spaces. This is one I want to check out.

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  23. this is so cool! I've never been to philly, but this really reminds me of a place in cuba that I visited called the gallery of jose fuster.

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  24. Oh my goodness. Thank you for sharing this! Added immediately to my northeast bucket list.

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