Artist Isaiah Zagar is a Philadelphia legend. Since 1994, Zagar and his wife have recycled broken bottles and other found objects into beautiful mosaics around the city, with an fantastical homebase called the Magic Garden. Located on Philadelphia’s trendy South Street, the Magic Garden is a labyrinth of glass bottles, bicycle wheels, discarded ceramic plates, hand made tiles, and shards of mirror that form walls and tunnels, as well as decorative mosaics that even feature poetry!
For $5, visitors can tour the inside of the Magic Garden, which extends into the neighboring building and includes equally incredible mosaics on every inch of it, from bathroom to closet. A few years ago the Garden was threatened by removal, as the landowner demanded a sum of $300,000 from Zagar and his wife to keep the structure. But after private funding, support from the community and the implementation of the $5 admission for tours, the funds were raised and the Magic Garden was preserved. The community support also helped Zagar create an educational program at the Magic Garden, which includes informative tours, and classes for children encouraging using recycled objects in the creation of art.
Inspired by Latin American Folk Art, whose elements are evident in many of his mosaics, Zagar has dedicated his life to creating fantastical art in transforming garbage into these mosaics. Aside from the Magic Garden, Zagar and his wife have spent years purchasing derelict buildings, renovating them and adding his signature murals, then selling them back to private residents. His recycled-art mosaics can be found on 55 walls across the city of Philadelphia, and his wife even owns a Folk Art Store nearby called Eyes Gallery.