Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Favorite in Philadelphia the Magic Garden

I've been to Philadelphia probably 20 times but don't always get a chance to do any sight seeing. The last time was in 2009 when I got stuck there during an historic blizzard. Everything was shut down. I was supposed to go home on Monday and didn't get there until Thursday.

It was beautiful, I tromped around the streets, sometimes walking down the middle in one of the two tracks. Once I got into the swing of it I had a great time. Of course not much was open and it was erie being on the streets, much of the time by myself.

 This time the wind was howling but there was no snow.

Taking a break from looking for art for Carolina Creations I walked about 30 blocks - to get a hair cut, visit Dick Blick Art Supply Store, the Visitors Center at Independence Hall, The Reading Terminal, and my favorite of all, the Magic Garden.

This time I got a special treat and even got to meet the artist Isaiah Zagar. I have to admit I always assumed he was some kind of odd ball but he's not! He's articulate, fascinating,  and passionate about his art.

For years we sought out his murals - my favorites being the mirrored ones.

Then in 2002 we noticed that you could tour his Magic Garden but for some reason we never did.

Until this time. Perhaps this is what I'll do in my side yard when I retire!!

Isaiah went to Pratt, married, spent 3 years in Peru and was fascinated with the folk art there.

He and his wife moved back to the US and bought a building on South Street which was a scary place in those days. The area was going to be demolished for an expressway so everything had moved out.

The expressway never happened and his building was the first one Zagar ever mosaiced. They had and still do have a gallery there where they sell folk art.

Other artists and shops moved in. They bought
another building (the current one attached to the Majic Garden) and he mosaiced that. Then started building his magic garden in 2 vacant lots beside. The owner of the lots wasn't happy with it but let it stay until property vallues rose to the point that he could sell the lots for $300,000.

Zagar didn't have that kind of money so was faced with having to bulldoze his work. After the press got ahold of the story a group of civic minded professionals stepped forward and made the Magic Garden into a non profit institute and purchased the land.

It's a fascinating visit!  

 I need to remember 3 parts cement 1 part sand.

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