Folk Art Highlights
Isaiah Zagar, the creator of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) and his wife Julia first connected with folk artists in the 1960s when they worked in Peru as Peace Corps volunteers. Their love for folk art grew as they purchased works from around the world for the Eye’s Gallery, Julia’s store at 4th and South Streets. The objects at PMG are often pieces that broke and could not be sold. Many are special collaborative commissions between Isaiah and the folk artist. If Isaiah admires the work of an artist he will leave drawings with them to interpret in their own style. These partnerships sometimes continue for years and result in hundreds of unique pieces that Isaiah installs at PMG.
The majority of the folk art at PMG is Mexican, since the Zagars fostered so many friendships there over the past five decades. However, there are also folk art pieces from many other countries they have visited. Works from India, Peru, Ecuador, Morocco, Indonesia, and Guatemala can all be found in the space.
The PMG staff began taking trips to Mexico in 2016 to carry on the Zagars’ legacy of working with folk artists. It is PMG’s mission to continue supporting the work of these talented artists and to share their stories and traditions with the public. PMG’s preservation team works with Isaiah to add these new artworks to the installation as old ones deteriorate or break.
Click on each image to learn more about the artists: