Exploring The Abstract Murals Of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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“Art should not be segregated in museums; it needs to live free among us”- Isaiah Zagar

While most travelers to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, spend time exploring rich history, colonial architecture and delicious cheese steaks, there’s another facet to the city worth getting to know: its detailed murals.

Walking down the streets of the city, it will immediately become clear Philly has a creative side. One major reason for this is the existence of the Mural Arts Program, which “unites artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives.” One of their most successful projects is the “Mural Mile,” which showcases Philadelphia’s most iconic murals along a walking route in the downtown area. Additionally, they put on a “Restorative Justice Program,” which incorporates the concept of justice into the art process and gives inmates, juvenile delinquents and ex-offenders a chance to do something good in the community. My favorite way to explore mural work in Philly, however, is through the work of local artist Isaiah Zagar.

%Gallery-167758%Isaiah Zagar’s work can be found on more than 120 public walls in Philadelphia. At 19, he discovered the world of art in outdoor environments, and was inspired. After receiving a B.A. in Painting & Graphics from Pratt Institute in New York City and completing the Peace Corps in Peru, he went back to his home city and settled down on South Street. From here, he turned the area into his own outdoor mural museum, and opened one of the most creative spaces in Philly, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG).

Open seven days a week, this creative and colorful space features gallery-style rooms as well as an outdoor mural mosaic labyrinth. It’s a place where the community can access and interpret the artist’s mosaic art and public murals. The works are bizarre creations from Zagar’s fantasies, with poems, bottles, cycle tires, paintings, glass and more. Along with putting on creative programming, like mosaic workshops and music and mosaic concerts, PMG incorporates the work of other locals artists into their exhibits and murals for a collaborative experience. The labyrinth is the most exciting part, as you walk through narrow tiled halls, down shiny steps and abstract twists and turns to immerse yourself in a world of avant-garde mosaic art.

For a more visual idea of Isaiah Zagar’s mosaic murals at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, check out the gallery above. Click here to see a map of where else you can find Zagar’s work on the streets of Philly.

[All images via Jessie on a Journey]

Celebration To Promote Mexico In Familiar Neighborhood Setting

Mexican celebrationDe Pueblo a Pueblo is an eight-week celebration that begins later this month in Philadelphia. The first-ever festival will honor Philadelphia’s local Mexican community by promoting greater understanding of traditional arts, language and history of Mexico.

The citywide festival hopes to connect a growing Mexican population and their customs with a broader Philadelphia audience. In addition to providing a variety of opportunities to learn more about Mexican culture, of special significance is where the event will be happening – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Showcasing the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a folk art environment made entirely of found objects and contributions from the community.

In 1968, Zagar and his wife came to Philadelphia after spending three years with the Peace Corps in Peru. Creating folk art all around his new city, he took an entire row house on South Street and covered it with mosaics, over 3000 square feet of them, that include pieces of mirror and original poetry.Hands-on activities, performances, traditional foods, crafts and folk art, along with discussions about immigration, are set to provide opportunities to learn about Mexico and should fit right in at the Magic Gardens.

The event will kick off on April 27 with the opening reception for “Echeleganas: Do Your Best,” a photographic exhibition featuring the people of La Sierra del Norte, a small village in Puebla, Mexico.



Flickr photo via Guerry