Back to the Magic Gardens?

At this time last year, I had just moved to DC. I made several stops on the drive down from Vermont, and spent a few nights in Philadelphia with not much of a plan and plenty of time to explore. While I was wandering around I found the Magic Gardens, a South Philly landmark, and what turned out to be one of the most inspiring places I have ever been. The entire building is covered in mosaics, inside and out from floor to ceiling. The entire thing, and hundreds of mosaics all over Philadelphia, were done by Isaiah Zagar.

While I was walking around the building, I peered in to the back room, and there was Isaiah working on a new piece. We started talking, and I told him I was en route to DC and had just finished college with plans to be an artist. As someone who was in that same spot 50 years earlier, he offered me a scholarship to attend one of his workshops, learn his techniques, and do a mosaic in South Philadelphia. So two weeks later I drove back up and spent two days learning about glass cutters, tile, grout, mixing cement, and watched Isaiah creating his art. It's very natural and fluid; he doesn't sketch or erase, he doesn't plan, he just paints, and the results are incredible.

It can be so easy to get caught up trying to make things perfect that you end up not making anything at all. 

Right now I am frantically preparing for a Sugarloaf show next weekend in Oaks, Pennsylvania outside of Philly, and I can't wait to go back to the Magic Gardens.

To see more about Isaiah and the Magic Gardens, you can watch In A Dream, an amazing movie made by Isaiah's son Jeremiah that covers their lives, his art, and the way the two are connected.


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Notes From The Studio