Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
The Art of Isaiah Zagar
Text by Betsy Augustine
Someone wants me to know about Isaiah Zagar and I appreciate their persistence and multiple channels. Though I just realized it, my path first crossed with Zagar this spring when Full Frame showed the documentary about Zagar by his son. I wanted to go but it didn't work out. I didn't pay attention to the details of the film at the time so I didn't realize until today that the film was about Zagar who I have since encountered in other ways. When I was in Philadelphia this summer Joel, Amanda and I noticed a few of his mosaics and became intrigued by them and wondered who made these? Luckily the day after at the American Visionary Museum I found this book which provided the answer. Chances are if you've been in Philadelphia you've seen at least one of his mosaics since in 2004 he had made 64. This proves to be yet another of Philadelphia's many fabulous treasures and I can't wait to see more of his mosaics when visiting the city again. Poems, dreams, mirrors. Brilliant.
A few excerpts:
8-When Zagar visited Clarence Schmidt's garden of mirrors he "called it the singled most important day of his life."
13- "relief he experienced when he began making mosaics"
14- mirrors and dyslexia- qualities of reversal- printmaking
-"I never get tired of working. The mirrors is endless energy reflecting everything."
18- doesn't know WHY, MUST make them
-"process of sharing dreams"
-calls them "poems"
-in his neighborhood- "which he says has made him what he is"
21- grotto basement
22- "His goal, he says, is to live in an expanding world of his own creation"
-mirror- "Yes, it's YOU. YOU'RE here. YOUR dreams matter too."