What are the Magic Gardens, and what’s so magical about them? The Magic Gardens are the workshop and outdoor gallery of Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. “Who’s he?” you’re probably asking. He’s an incredible pioneering artist. A visionary. A passionate man with an insatiable urge to cover things with tiles, glass, and other fragments of everyday life. He’s also an incredibly kind man who wants to support other artists…I know this because, when I sat down to have coffee with him a few years ago, he urged me to do whatever I needed to do (quit my full-time job, beg my parents to pay my health insurance, etc.) to DO – for a living – whatever it is that makes me happy in life. That was a life-changing conversation for me.
But anyway, back to Isaiah and the Magic Gardens. For lack of appropriate words to describe them, the Magic Gardens are Isaiah’s outdoor space, a vacant lot that, over the years, he has completely covered in tiles, bottles, tires, and other…stuff. They really are like nothing you have ever seen before.
From March 19th to April 19th, the Magic Gardens is hosting an exhibit called Tell-Tale Tiles and Fractured Fantasies, inspired by Isaiah and by Henry Chapman Mercer, creator of the also-fantastical Mercer Museum. The exhibit features a juried selection of tile and mosaic works in the main gallery (which you enter through the outdoor “Garden”) and several workshops and lectures. A few highlights:
Monday and Tuesday, March 29th-30th: Public mosaic workshop with Isaiah Zagar. Learn how to do a mosaic in your own house or backyard. Isaiah’s workshops are very popular and definitely worth the cost. (For one student’s post-workshop work, visit my mosaic website — and forgive the fact that it hasn’t been updated in a couple years.)
Tuesday, March 30th at 6pm: Lecture: “Henry Chapman Mercer and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works” by Vance Koehler, Curator of Collections at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.
Personally, I can’t wait to attend these events, and I hope some of you who read this will share my enthusiasm. See you there!