It is clear when an artist has an attachment to their work, and a driving need to create. What is also clear is when art is born for the sake of itself, and not only produced for profit or show.
Isaiah Zagar is a mosaic artist whose talented dynamic is a mainstay for his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania community.
Zagar has been making the city more colorful for several decades with his creative, hand placed murals. Over ten years ago he began to place his art, which can also be seen all over the city on murals and building facades, in a set of vacant lots. Creating elaborate structures with found objects like wheels, tiles, mirror pieces, dishes and cans as well as items he reused, like bottles, the lots began to take form and become filled with his mosaic displays.
However, there was a large roadblock. The problem was that the lots did not actually belong to Zagar, and when the owner decided to sell them the artist to remove his work or purchase the lots.
A personal loan, fundraising and donations helped Zagar retain the lots and his mosaic productions. After many years of finding a spot for each hand placed piece, the once barren lots have transformed into more than just a property.
Now called Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, they are a staple of Philadelphian culture.
The nonprofit garden space is his colossal display. Delightfully formed into a detailed maze of the reused and eye-catching, and the gallery is still expanding.
Zagar continues to devote time to the sprawling mosaic garden, but he also gives back in an engaging way. With the goal of making art available he opens up the space to interested wanderers for donations or reasonable fees. He also is known to celebrate the unknown artist, and holds lessons and workshops for those wanting and willing to learn the techniques.
Visually touring the Magic Gardens and his other creations, it is apparent that his work resounds and filters through the city, and his openness to others and sense of community are just one of the many pieces that make Zagar’s mosaic work so appealing.
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