About PMG Exhibitions

PMG proudly displays the works of local, national, and international artists whose visions align with our organization's mission of educating the public about mosaic, folk, and visionary arts.

If you are an artist interested in exhibiting your work at PMG, download our Exhibition Application and submit your proposal to etremblay@phillymagicgardens.org or mail to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, Attn: Elspeth Tremblay. Artists who create work relating the mission and aesthetics of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens are welcome to submit applications. The form consists of a short artist statement, a paragraph on why your art connects with our space, some basic installation questions, and/or links to a website or blog.

Please keep in mind that our space is open to the general public and that our permanent mosaic installation cannot be compromised.

Shattering Expectations: MOSAIC 2014
March 7, 2014 -  April 20, 2014
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, March 7, 6:00-9:00 PM

Shattering Expectations: MOSAIC 2014 is an exhibition that will be hosted at PMG in partnership with the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia (MSoP). The show will offer a look at a group of the region’s most accomplished mosaicists, offering groundbreaking (or tile-breaking, as the case may be) approaches to mosaic. Works were selected by Nancie Mills Pipgras, an internationally-acclaimed mosaic publisher and author. 


Carol Talkov, Moth (detail)                                                                                Yakov Hanansen, Brain (detail)

Featured Artists:

The Mosaic Society of Philadelphia (MSoP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of and appreciation for the practice of mosaic art in the Philadelphia area. Through community outreach, education, and a strong membership base, MSoP is committed to helping artists in the region explore the growing art of mosaics. MSoP’s endeavors and accomplishments include exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, and community education in the arts. 

Shattering Expectations is a juried exhibition that will present multiple works by several artists, providing a deeper sense of personal aesthetics and distinctive styles. Juror Nancie Mills Pipgras is the editor of Mosaic Art NOW, an online magazine covering the international contemporary mosaic scene. She is a former president of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, has spoken about the medium in the US and UK, and is a regular contributor to the French magazine Mosaique. Recently, Mills Pipgras was given the honorific Gran Cavalieri dell’Ordine de San Martino by the town of Clauiano, Italy, for her work in promoting contemporary mosaic.


Brooks Tower, Quaking Oats                                            Rachel Sager, True North (detail)

PMG and MSoP are committed to designing an exhibition that will delight the anticipated 6,000–10,000 patrons who will visit PMG during the course of the show. This unusual venue will engage local, regional, and international visitors with the new identity of contemporary American mosaic.

The exhibition will be held from Friday, March 7 – Sunday, April 20, 2014, with a free public reception for the grand unveiling on Friday, March 7, from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. The reception falls on a Philadelphia "First Friday” (a citywide night that highlights art), which will allow for a diverse crowd of art aficionados to enjoy the featured works.  Please join us!

Upcoming Exhibitions

Traditions Transformed: The Folk Art of Joel Garcia
April 25 - June 8, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, May 2, 2014, 6:00 - 9:00 PM


Photograph by Bob Brand

PMG looks forward to hosting Joel Garcia, a papier-mâché artist from Mexico City, and his colorful works this Spring.  Garcia has been featured in galleries and museums throughout Mexico and the United States; his creations are among the collections of Philadelphia folk art collectors.

Garcia follows the centuries-old tradition of creating papier-mâché figures that are both ceremonial and decorative. His pieces incorporate a variety of sculpture techniques that include molds, wire armatures, and miniature assemblages. Many of his works are imaginative animals called alebrijes, a craft originated by Garcia’s mentor Pedro Linares. Others depict catrinas, skeletal figures of women in fancy dress that began as a satire on higher social classes and are now icons of El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).

Garcia’s pieces are brightly painted and he draws his design and subject material from traditional sources. His playful creations incorporate themes from nature, religion, historical and cultural events. Garcia is most famous for his interpretation of characters found in the works of Jose Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. His colorful muertos adorn many altars during Day of the Dead festivities. 

Stop by PMG on Friday, May 2, for a special Opening Reception, with refreshments and a chance to chat with Joel Garcia!

Joel Garcia has a long history of teaching his craft—so in addition to the display of his work, PMG will host a FREE workshop for our Educator Members! On May 10 & 11, learn Garcia's papier-mâché technique and create your own one-of-a-kind work of art. Only ten spots are available, click here for the application and the workshop safety waiver!

Past Exhibitions

Autodidactic Ingenuism
Works from Coalition Ingénu Self-Taught Artists' Collective
October 4, 2013 - November 17, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, October 11, 6:00-9:00PM


Autodidactic Ingenuism is PMG's second and final exhibition with Coalition Ingénu Self-Taught Artists' Collective (CI), a Philadelphia grassroots nonprofit founded in 1995 that will be moving to Florida in the coming months.  CI works with mental health centers and support systems, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation programs to promote and encourage creativity as a means to emotional and mental well-being, and to create a system for recognizing these artists and their achievements.  

Autodidactic Ingénuism is grounded in CI’s founding ideas of "self-taught” and "genuine.” Autodidactic means "to have skills or knowledge acquired through one’s own efforts,” and Ingénuism is defined as a style of art that is honest and without reserve or restraint. This exhibition offers a cohesive description of Coalition Ingénu’s aesthetic and emotional values, utilizing terms that unite the artists showcased by the group. Artists participating in Autodidactic Ingénuism include: Jim Bloom, Robert Bullock, Justin Duerr, David Kime, Michelle Kral, Renee Leshner, Ralfka Gonzales, and Ed Woltemate Jr. The exhibition is comprised of a wide variety of media, from expressive paintings to intricate drawings, from abstracted figures to colorful mixed-media collages.

Robert Bullock, founder and director of Coalition Ingénu, is a self-taught artist and muralist. For nine years, he served as Art Program Coordinator and facilitator of open studio art classes at Project H.O.M.E. (a nonprofit organization working to end the cycle of homelessness). Bullock was also a muralist with the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia for six years and was gallery curator and director of member services at the Journey Home Community Enrichment Center.

Autodidactic Ingénuism features artwork that is directly informed by the experiences and perceptions of the artist and is not significantly influenced by academic tradition. Whether subtle, wildly expressive, intellectual or sublime, this collection provides unfiltered insight into the complex personalities of each artist. Artist David Kime explains "Art has given me a reason to live and has been a catharsis for dealing with manic depressive disorder." Kime is a prolific artist and poet who has been a pillar of the collective. Justin Duerr, another key collective member, recently starred in the award-winning movie Resurrect Dead, where he extensively researched the history of the mysterious "Toynbee Tiles.” Duerr’s enormous drawings are influenced by his interest in the nature, the occult, and religion.


With this conclusive and consummate Philadelphia exhibition, The Coalition Ingénu Self-Taught Artists’ Collective bids a very fond farewell to Philadelphia. Join us for a FREE opening reception on Friday, October 11, from 6:00PM – 9:00PM. Refreshments will be served, and artists from Coalition Ingénu will be present to converse about their work.

Magic Beyond the Gardens: Artworks by Isaiah Zagar
Annual Fundraiser Gala Exhibition

Join us in celebrating the work of Isaiah Zagar in the last exhibition of the summer! Our annual fundraiser gala, Magic Beyond the Gardens, on September 21, is a special opportunity to engage with one-of-a-kind mosaics and works on paper by Zagar at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Combining personal stories with physical materials from the city, both found and made, Zagar’s work is authentically Philadelphian. This exhibition is a great opportunity to celebrate Zagar and his contributions to our city and the greater mosaic community. Don’t miss this chance to purchase a Zagar original, support PMG, and take home a piece of Philadelphia magic!


July 12, 2013 - August 25, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, July 12, 6:00PM-9:00PM

Imaginings from Nature is a compilation of whimsical, personal narratives by local ceramic artist, Katia McGuirk. In the spirit of bricolage mosaic-making, McGuirk employs a diverse range of found objects and handmade materials to assemble tiles, panel mosaics, and site-specific installation. Her intuitive exploration of objects which utilizes clay, tile, glass, stone, and metal produces playful, nature-inspired assemblages that embody the energetic spirit of tilemakers, educators, and community advocates of the past, present, and future.


Joseph Taylor, Co-Founder and President of the Tile Heritage Foundation, explains:

 "Eons ago, our ancient ancestors first discovered the usefulness of clay and the great potential that lay in store: vessels in which grains and liquids were held, building blocks from which shelters and communities grew, tablets on which communications were inscribed and transported, and objects of every description through which individuals were provided a means for personal, and often artistic, expression. 

From these fundamental beginnings, clay tiles have evolved from a durable surfacing for walls and floors and protective cladding for structural exteriors, to a medium through which we can observe and interpret the story of civilization. In addition to the beauty of glazed surfaces, the real secret lies in clay’s versatility. Readily molded by the human hand, the clay takes on any shape until it is fired and permanently hardened, thus recording human history. From the tiled temples and roof tops of ancient China to the modern day ornamented public buildings all over the world—tiled surfaces serve as an inspiring reflection of culture and preserve a perception of ourselves."


Katia McGuirk is a life-long tile enthusiast, artist, and educator. McGuirk began her love affair with ceramics by attending the Rhode Island School of Design. By 1981, she founded a new company, Fountain St. Tileworks, launching her career as an art tile maker in Newport, Rhode Island. In the late 1980s, McGuirk moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, to work at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works as a Production Ceramicist and later, as the Production Manager. There she honed her talents, utilizing the traditional tile production methods of founder Henry Chapman Mercer. After a few years, McGuirk established a successful ceramics business of her own, Katia McGuirk Tile Company, and was welcomed as an Artist-in-Residence in Pennsylvania and New Jersey schools.

Today, McGuirk has created more than twenty-five public and community-built murals. She currently serves as a teaching artist and Artist in Residence at the Village Clay Workshop at the Village of Arts and Humanities. Her tiles can be found in boutique showrooms and homes across the country. An experienced educator, designer, practitioner, and philosopher of the arts, McGuirk utilizes a mid-century factory in Doylestown located near the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works. The factory features her manufacturing shop, lively educational facility, and quaint gallery showcasing the work of contemporary tile artists—a distinguished "tile hub" of Bucks County.

For more information, please take a look at the 
press release for Imaginings in Nature.

Portrait Stories: A Year of Self-Portraits by Isaiah Zagar & Exploring the Figure by Majid Iraei
June 14, 2013 - July 7, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: June 14, 6:00-9:00PM

A Year of Self-Portraits
By Isaiah Zagar

Thirty years ago, Isaiah Zagar created six self-portraits per day, resulting in a large body of work that ranged from colorful paintings to collages of mixed media.  Through the incorporation of fabric, text, and photographs, Zagar utilized personal and found objects to tell the stories of his life. 


Exploring the Figure
By Majid Iraei

In addition to Zagar's work, his assistant, Majid Iraei, will be showing some of his personal work.  Iraei’s three dimensional portraits combine papier mache, plaster, found objects, and painted elements to create unique, life-sized busts. Using his close friends as muses, Iraei plays with fantastical body modification to create surreal and intimate portraiture.

From the Ground Up: Land, Water & Sky
April 19, 2013 - June 9, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, April 19, 6:00PM-9:00PM


From the Ground Up: Land Water & Sky examines the unique and unconventional landscape works by Peter Kinney, Jeff Waring, and Isaiah Zagar. Art created both in the studio and in plein aire by these artists allow the "sky to be the limit” with a wide range of scale and material application. Nontraditional natural media combined with found objects and pigments seasoned in the elements compliment the artists’ playful explorations of time and place. From fragments to full canvases, the vibrant colors and energy represented in Kinney, Waring, and Zagar’s landscapes fit harmoniously within the galleries of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.  

 On May 10, from 5:00-7:00PM, join us at PMG for a special session of Afternoons with the Artist.  All three artists from Land, Water, & Sky will be present in Zagar's studio to talk with visitors about their work and answer questions! 

"Like embedded journalists, Peter Kinney, Isaiah Zagar and Jeff Waring have made the work in this show as ‘embedded’ artists, burrowing deep into the natural world to bring back its dirty, messy, mysterious secrets. They are landscape artists, working out of a great tradition, but also stretching that tradition past the old givens of horizon lines and three-point perspective in order to get where they need to go.

In Isaiah Zagar’s large-scale paintings—which he painted outdoors, and with the canvas flat on the ground à la Jackson Pollock—perspective has exploded, so that we see the grass, water and growing things as if simultaneously from above, beside, looking up and through to everything else.  Peter Kinney collaborates with earth, making it his medium as well as his muse: his gestural shapes painted in mud morph into playful objects and earth-divinities, swirling like galaxies or curving, dancing bodies. Jeff Waring’s surfaces range from crusted to softly saturated, giving us the textures of bark and rain, while he also makes us dizzy with mixed sensations of near and far.
Each of these artists is after full-on communion with the natural world, the kind that leaves you surrounded and bowled over, forgetting the difference between being human, rock, plant or divine. In this they are connected to a grand undercurrent in American landscape painting, with Kinney’s luminous moons echoing the moonlit landscapes of Albert Pinkham Ryder; Zagar’s vibrating leaves and waves recalling the rippling, visible auras of trees, stars and flowers in Charles Burchfield’s ecstatic watercolors; and Waring’s pared-down compositions suggesting the almost-abstract natural forms of the modernist painter Arthur Dove. They’ve brought back these emblems of their embedded journeys, inviting us to share in the communion. With the 44th Earth Day at hand, it is an invitation we shouldn't ignore.”
                                                                                                                        -Miriam Seidel

Beyond Boundaries: Works from Oasis Art Center & PDDC's Cultural Arts Center
March 1, 2013 - April 14, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, March 8, 6:00PM-9:00PM


Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is eagerly anticipating our upcoming exhibition featuring works by artists from Oasis Art Center and Philadelphia Developmental Disabilities Corporation (PDDC)'s Cultural Arts Center.  Oasis (RHD) is a studio arts and life skills program staffed largely by artists that nurtures the talents, skills, and creativity of individuals living with mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities. PDDC offers programs and services that support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for employment, community connections, and personal development through the arts. This collaborative project will be featured in PMG's galleries from March 1 through April 14, 2013. 

A continuation of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens' ongoing support of visionary art, this exhibition empowers and raises awareness for these imaginative and talented artists.  Beyond Boundaries will showcase works by program participants, prominently feature a variety of works by ten extraordinary artists, and even include a site-specific collaborative installation.  The featured artists' work will be co-curated by Cara Zimmerman (Curator of Special Exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Executive Director at the Foundation of Self-Taught Artists), and Jeffrey Rakien Nomura (Independent Curator and Art Advisor at Oasis Art Center).

El Viaje de los Niños (The Children's Journey)
January 25, 2013 -February 24, 2013
FREE Opening Reception: Friday, January 25, 6:00PM-9:00PM

El Viaje de los Niños (The Children’s Journey) tells the stories of Mexican immigrant children who have crossed the border to come to Philadelphia. Through visual art sessions with artist Nora H. Litz, the children created large-scale dioramas that illustrate their journeys and the distress that migration has created in their lives and identities. Narrating their stories in accompanying audio tracks, the children take us along with them on their pilgrimage  Small paintings and poems by immigrant adults augment the children's stories to fully reveal their emotional journeys. These colorful works fit perfectly with the vibrant galleries at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens and with the continued presence of Mexican folk art in the space. Don't miss the opportunity to experience these extraordinary art pieces first hand and get a glimpse into the journey of those who have struggled to make America their home.

El Viaje de los Niños is supported in part by a grant from the Leeway Foundation to Nora H. Litz in collaboration with Puentes de Salud, and with assistance from Dr. Steven Larson, University of Pennsylvania. 

Program Dates, as part of One Book, One Philadelphia:

Reaching Across the Table: Improving Community Health and Wellness Through Collaboration
Free Library of Philadelphia, Main branch;Thursday, February 7, 7:00PM
Multi-disciplinary panel discussion

Family Jams:  Los Rumbos de Vidas
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens; Sunday, February 10, NOON-4:00PM
Aztec stamping craft for families

Crossing Cultures Tour and Talk with Artist Isaiah Zagar
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens; Thursday, February 21, 6:00PM-7:30PM 
Founding artist discusses his return to the U.S. after years of Peace Corps service in Peru

Works by Isaiah Zagar
November 23 - January 20

From late November through January 2013 PMG featured an exhibition of wonderful mosaic works by our founding artist Isaiah Zagar - just in time for the holidays!  Interested buyers can now make an appointment at our 826 South Street office or check out our online catalog to purchase a beautiful and unique Zagar creation!

Private Play: Works by Pam Lethbridge
Friday, October 5- Sunday, November 18

Nearly 200 eccentric ceramic dolls, mixed media figurines, and modified polaroids created an imaginative fairy-tale world within Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South Street) this autumn. Private Play featured unusual and site-specific installations of misfit "toys,” all newly crafted by Philadelphia artist Pam Lethbridge.

Inspired by years of experience in the mental health field, the distinct psychological themes found throughout Lethbridge’s work highlight the complicated relationships we have with our childhoods and with one another. Both vulnerable and curious, Lethbridge’s childish characters reveal a complex connection with each other and their audience.

Pam Lethbridge received a graduate degree from Yale University in Adult Psychiatric Nursing and worked in this discipline for 23 years. She was an artist in the Associate Program at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia from 1999 through 2011 and now has a private studio in South Philadelphia. Lethbridge has exhibited her art at the Snyderman-Works Gallery at 303 Cherry Street,Philadelphia, since 2000. Explains Rick Snyderman, "Dolls as spirit figures are present in every culture. In ours… they are covered up, pampered and secure in elegant clothing, as we imagine and wish our own children to be. Lethbridge requires us to examine a darker reality that much of the world lives with[in].”

PMG’s founding artist Isaiah Zagar is also heavily influenced by his psychological experiences. His artistic practice served as self-administered therapy throughout the years, particularly after his nervous breakdown in the late 1960s. Constantly exploring his own psyche, Zagar embeds his personal narratives into his murals, both with tiny painted tiles and large, encompassing figures. Childhood experiences, family relationships, portraits of friends past and present, fantasies, anxieties, joys and lamentations have all been recorded in Zagar's seemingly playful art.

The psychological themes found in the work of both Lethbridge and Zagar offer a gateway to open, honest dialogue about the complexity of our human experience. These two brave artists welcome viewers to explore the intricate relationships we all have with the world around us.

Download the entire press release here

New Work by Isaiah Zagar
Saturday, September 1 - Sunday, September 30

Get an up-close look at Isaiah's latest glittering mosaicked framed pieces. The best thing about these works is that they're available for you to take home! Choose from of these colorful pieces of art for your walls or as gifts for your friends and family! Isaiah's framed mosaic works are only on display for a limited time, so come check them out while you can!

Envisioning Home: Perspectives from Philadelphia Refugees

Envisioning Home: Perspectives from Philadelphia Refugees featured a dazzling arrangement of photography by refugees living in Philadelphia. Escaping turmoil in their countries, these families often arrive in the United States feeling emotionally overwhelmed and experiencing culture shock. As part of a major study by Thomas Jefferson University, these displaced persons told their stories of making Philadelphia "home" through photographs. Their works spoke straight from the heart and helped to communicate the resettlement stresses that impact their mental health.

This research project featured families from the three largest refugee populations in Philadelphia: the Burmese, Iraqi, and Bhutanese. To complete their photo journal, participants dictated captions explaining the significance of their images and how they relate to resettlement.

The exhibition also included beautiful photographs taken by artist Harvey Finkle, a Philadelphia-based documentary still photographer. Finkle has produced an extensive body of work focusing on social, political, and cultural issues (pictured below). He works very closely with refugee families and has developed a deep understanding of their lives here in the United States.

Envisioning Home was a collaboration between PMG, Thomas Jefferson Hospital, the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC), and Lutheran Children and Family Services. It took place in conjunction with other culturally- and linguistically- appropriate mental health care programs that bridged PRMHC's refugee social service work with community arts.

This program and exhibition were sponsored by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, The PEW Charitable Trust, Lutheran Children and Family Services, the Mural Arts Program, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.

Unexpected Muses: The Work of Isaiah Zagar, Jimmy Clark and Majid Iraei
Exhibition: Friday June 22 - Sunday July 8

Artists sometimes draw inspiration from unforeseen places, thus the title for PMG's exhibition Unexpected Muses. This show illustrated the mutual inspiration felt by PMG founding artist Isaiah Zagar, ceramicist Jimmy Clark and sculpture artist Majid Iraei. Clark uses bits of pottery within his ceramic pieces, which Zagar responds to with his own interpretations of Clark's works in mosaic form. Iraei, who is Zagar's assistant, also draws inspiration from Zagar's work, who in turn puts elements of Iraei's middle-eastern background into his mosaics. The cyclical result is powerful and results in a series of unique and alluring artworks.

Jimmy Clark was Executive Director of the Clay Studio in Philadelphia for over 16 years. His approach to working with clay is in cooperation with the material where the creator is encouraged to "listen to the clay. That is to allow the clay and the environment to help determine the ultimate size and form. This intuitive method is complimented by firings that defy ultimate control. He considers himself but one of three integral components in the creation of a piece: maker, material, and fire.

Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on over 200 public Philadelphia walls. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Brooklyn, Zagar's work is included in the permanent collections of numerous art institutions. Zagar, like Clark, incorporates many found objects into his work, including broken plates, mugs, and tiles.He reappropriates these pieces to form entirely new compositions.Looking at the ceramic works made by his contemporary, Zagar forms his mosaics in response to the arrangements, often adding his own twist.The outcomes are colorful and flowing mosaic designs that turn Clark's functional pieces into purely aesthetic creations.

Majid Iraei is a graphic designer, sculptor, photographer, and multi-media artist from Tehran, Iran. He has apprenticed with Isaiah Zagar for nearly two years. Iraei's "Little Dancers" series has been ongoing project for several years. The "Dancers," comprised of wire, yarn, and found-objects, reflect the characters and unique personalities which color Iraei's world. Often presented in complex, narrative animations, this "Little Dancers" grouping reflects Iraei's current experiences while living in America. Iraei also influences Zagar, who has included Farsi and middle-eastern imagery into his works.

Echele Ganas: A Life Left Behind
Photograph and Film of Mexico by Laurence Salzmann
Friday, April 27 through Sunday, June 16

View an article in the Philadephia Inquirer about Echele Ganas

PMG displayed Laurence Salzmann's incredible photog
Visitor Information News and Events About Us About Isaiah Zagar Education Join and Support Store Private Events