Philly’s South Street neighborhood wasn’t always as vibrant as it is now – in fact, it would have ceased to exist as we know it in the 60s if it wasn’t for Julia and Isaiah Zagar. In the late 1960s, this duo took it upon themselves to shake things up for good by buying and revitalizing the broken-down buildings in the area. Isaiah and Julia Zagar had a huge impact, and much of what you see today is due to their efforts.
In particular, Isaiah’s creative and wonderfully intricate mosaics cover many walls in the area – the Philly Magic Gardens (1020 South Street) are brimming with glittering mirrors, gleaming green bottles, and handmade tiles. Zagar’s art is so impactful that his son recently made a film about it – but the best part is that the art keeps growing, and mosaics are continually being added. A trip to South Street to spend a day in the Magic Gardens should be at the top of your weekend list.
Why? The Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) self-proclaimed mission is to “[Inspire] creativity and community engagement by educating the public about folk, mosaic, and visionary art.” That’s definitely something they succeed in – and you reap the benefits. There are myriad ways to get involved here, from community events to workshops, including:
Once a month, PMG stays open past usual hours. The result? A magical evening best spent with friends (and making new ones). It’s the most original way to unwind from work. Whether you’re creating calming crafts or participating in a scavenger hunt, all of the week’s worries will melt away. It’s BYOBBS, which means you’ll need to bring your own booze, blanket, and snacks – but if you forget your booze, they have wine available for purchase. Buy your ticket in advance, as they sell out fast!
Art/Gage is all about filling the community with art and artistic projects. Get involved with events like their Spring Festival, and watch neighbors and friends come together for some amazing projects (ever wanted to make your own comic book or create art with spaghetti?) that will increase goodwill and artistic powers.
Zagar himself hosts these monthly workshops, where you get to pretend you’re a genius artist. In the span of a workshop, “participants work on a mosaic mural from conception to completion and learn the art of breaking tile, cutting mirror, gluing tile and grouting.” If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, sign up as soon as you can. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
There’s nothing like being a 15-minute drive to the PMG – and when you live at The Granary, it’s entirely possible! Check out PMG’s Instagram today, and see more details below.
Special Guided Tours
Saturdays and Sundays at NOON and 4:00 PM
*Tour prices include general admission to PMG
$7 for adults
$5 for Students with ID, Military & Seniors
1020 South Street
Spring/Summer Hours (April – October)*
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM