Philadelphia Mosaic artist and painter Isaiah Zagar is known for his colorful mosaics all around the city, but the Magic Gardens, tucked into a pocket of 10th and South Streets, is his masterpiece.
"Even though we're right on South Street, it definitely doesn't feel like it when you're in this space," says Olivia Edlund, Education and Outreach Manager for Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.
It's a two-level outdoor sculpture garden with two indoor galleries taking up half a city block.
"We always tell people you can't really get lost out here, but you can get lost in the artwork, " Edlund says.
Zagar spent nearly 30 years creating the Magic Gardens before it opened in 2008.
"He started working on this space when it was just an abandoned lot next to a property that he owned so he didn't necessarily have permission to be working on this space," Edlund says. "It was actually in danger of being destroyed, but the neighborhood came to Isaiah's rescue and started volunteering their time, donating money."
Edlund describes the art as a weaving together of mosaics and found objects, "recycled materials and glass bottles and bicycles wheels, and also contains a lot of Mexican folk art."
Look closely, she says, and you'll find hidden gems from around the world: "pieces from Mexico and Guatemala, and India and Bali that are here in this space so it really is kind of an international collection."
There's Happy Hour in the gardens the second Wednesday of the month through September with music, cocktails and craft activities.
Edlund says 150,000 visitors came to enjoy the artful oasis last year.
"It's pretty amazing to see what one person can do over many years to do this monumental work of art," she says.
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1020 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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Get lost in Isaiah Zagar's Magic Garden masterpiece
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