Between Terminals C and D
Ticketed passengers

Philadelphia mosaic muralist Isaiah Zagar began transforming lower South Street in 1968, at a time when this section of the city was known for its vandalized and vacant properties. Zagar viewed the neighborhood as his canvas and a catalyst for change. He began to embellish walls and buildings in a style that emulated the folk art of his mentor Clarence Schmidt who over decades intuitively constructed homes from densely layered found objects and recycled materials.

In the late 60’s, Zagar and his wife Julia, collectors of folk art, opened Eyes Gallery at South Street and 4th, a store that specializes in “handpicked items from around the world.” Eyes Gallery was Zagar’s prototype as he transformed the exterior and interior spaces into an immersive mosaicked environment primarily using found glass, mirror, ceramic tile, and ceramic objects.

On completion, Zagar continued transforming the streetscape when in 1994 he found adjoining derelict properties on South and 10th Streets. There he began to excavate the land and construct indoor and outdoor mosaic murals, walkways, passageways, and steps--a labyrinth-like complex made out of cement embedded with ceramic shards, mirror, colorful glass bottles, plates, cups, bicycle spokes, folk art, nearly anything and everything.  Today, this mesmerizing and experiential work of art is known as Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and is considered one of the city’s most unique cultural treasures. 

Zagar’s aesthetic is “heavily influenced by his travels and the personal connections he had made with international folk and visionary artists.” His work is also embedded with personnel narratives that often depict himself, Julia, his life, and community. Zagar is a prolific artist who has more than 200 works of art throughout Philadelphia and around the world. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, Zagar’s largest public artwork, is truly magical and memorable. It is a visionary art environment and a community arts center that offers on-going programming including gallery exhibitions, mosaic workshops, tours, and family activities that continually inspire creativity and community engagement. It is uniquely Isaiah Zagar.

Visit phillymagicgardens.org

Isaiah Zagar and Philadelphia's Magic Gardens