Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens isn’t your typical tourist stop.
Here, artist Isaiah Zagar has transformed a vacant city lot into another world. His mosaic walls (and floors and ceilings) are made out of all kinds of found objects, from traditional kitchen tiles, to bits and pieces of broken glass or recycled bottles. The outdoor gallery-like space is randomly located on what appears to be a residential street. Peering through the gate, a magical scene beckons, one without flowers and trees, but a “garden” of sorts nonetheless.
Once inside, the place is a quirky collection of objects, colours, and mirror reflections and you don’t know where to look and you kinda just want to sit down. It was a bit like how I’d imagine walking into a kaleidoscope to feel like… only not ordered into a particular design like kaleidoscope designs are; this place was anything but organized.
As soon as we stepped inside, The Husband took one look around and said “this place is YOU – a younger YOU” I wasn’t sure if I should appreciate that comment or not. On one hand I was drawn to the unexpected treasures and little discoveries planted amongst the bottles and broken plates, such as this glass POM bottle:
However, on the other hand, it was all too much. Maybe the “younger” me was too much… as young girls are… the doodles and drawings, sparkles, jewellery, bows, the need to cover all surface areas with material things. I’m reminded of my students’ work, sometimes I just want to hide the glitter so they can’t find it, I’d rather they do without, they tend to go overboard, but they (the female students) always want to use sparkles and glitter, to them it’s beautiful, magical even.
The gardens are like a collage that’s thrown up sparkles and little toys and trinkets. The Husband refers to it as “the garbage house” because he doesn’t understand art in the same way, but he was happy with the low admission of $5.00 so that kept him quiet. I however, felt like I could stay there exploring for hours. And shhh don’t tell him, I have plans to transform
his our basement in the same way.
“I don’t like formal gardens…” – Walt Disney