Putting the pieces together: Isaiah Zagar shares his mosaic methods with others
An attempt to reveal Isaiah Zagar’s latest work became an exploration of his identity as a Philadelphia and global artist. He stores over 50 years of unsold art in his studio in South Philadelphia, which he is covering in mosaics that match the aesthetic of his home and well-known South Street attraction, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Margo Reed / Staff Photographer
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Zagar has created between 220 and 300 mosaics in Philadelphia alone, according to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the nonprofit that aims to keep the structure in-tact. He has traveled worldwide and built mosaics around the globe. Today, he continues to practice as an artist both in his studio and throughout the city by hosting workshops and teaching his mosaic methods. Zagar said he is headed toward death. As a result, he aims to spread his techniques and his mosaics around the world whether the work is of his hands or others, and he does so through workshops he has been running since the 1990s. Zagar’s workshop on July 29 at the Meredith School attracted attendees from across the city and as far west as Chicago. Many were inspired to be a part of a mosaic that they believe will beautify the city. “It’s very simple. I do the workshops so I can get my mosaics into the world,” Zagar, 78, said.
Isaiah Zagar, who is most famous for building Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, is 78 years old and has been teaching workshops to spread his style since the 1990s. He opened a new studio in South Philadelphia in 2014, and has plans to finish building mosaics in the entire studio, which according the the Philadelphia's Magic Gardens nonprofit, is three times the size of the magic gardens.
Isaiah Zagar kneels to break tiles during his workshop at Meredith School in Queen Village Saturday, July 29, 2017. The workshop attendees do most of the tile breaking and mirror cutting for the mosaics, but Zagar adds his touch through direction and small details.
Isaiah Zagar teaches as Manila Clough mosaics at his workshop at Meredith School in Queen Village Saturday, July 29, 2017.
Tourists visit Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, which was built by Isaiah Zagar in the 1960s Saturday, July 29, 2017. Zagar started doing mosaic after having a mental breakdown. Today he teaches workshops and according to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens he has between 220 and 300 mosaics in the city.
Octavia Plachkov cuts glass that will be hung on a mosaic at Isaiah Zagar's workshop at Meredith School in Queen Village Saturday, July 29, 2017.
Octavia Plachkov mosaics at Isaiah Zagar's workshop at Meredith School in Queen Village Saturday, July 29, 2017.
Greta Greenberger mosaics at his workshop at Meredith School in Queen Village Saturday, July 29, 2017.