Isaiah Zagar, the mosaic artist who has arguably altered the streetscape of South Philly more than any other individual, allowed us the first look inside his Watkins Street garage last week.
And we took a ton of pictures.
The garage, which he has been working on for seven years, is something of an interior version of Zagar’s world-renowned Magic Gardens on South Street. Mirrored, brightly colored mosaics cover nearly every surface – floors, columns, windows, ceiling – and found objects like bike wheels, pottery, pendant lights, sculptures, toys and more jut out from the walls.
The first floor contains several cordoned-off spaces, creating a bit of the same labyrinth feeling you get when walking through the South Street garden.
Zagar says once he finished South Street, he wanted to keep going. He was drawn to the building. “I love this building, the challenge of this building, this amazing triangle,” he said. “I love the solidity of it, the steel beams.”
Zagar, who lives near 8th and South, said he has always “felt protected by South Philly and Bella Vista. They’ve been very good to me.”
Chandeliers were designed by found-object artist Warren Muller.
The second floor is a wide-open expanse, now partially outfitted almost like a living room – albeit with the multicolored sand used for the grout scattered about.
“It’s a wonderful place to make my world public, my idiosyncratic world.”