Though best known for his shimmering mosaic murals on South Street, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens founding artist Isaiah Zagar will reveal another, rarely-seen side of his art in January 2010. Throughout his expansive career, Zagar has also produced hundreds of etchings and woodcuts, and these prints, which are the focal point of the recent award-winning documentary, In A Dream, will be featured at PMG as part of Philagrafika 2010.
Fifty Years of Printmaking: Works on Paper by Isaiah Zagar will feature a varied selection of intricate prints which chronicle Zagar’s life from his time as a young artist at New York City’s renowned Pratt Institute through his marriage, the development of his children, and birth of his grandchildren. Prints created during his travels to Peru and India will also be included. The exhibition will run from Friday, January 15, 2010 through Friday, March 5, 2010, with an opening reception and artist talk on Friday, January 15 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on over 100 public walls throughout the city of Philadelphia and around the world. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Brooklyn, Zagar received his B.F.A. in Painting and Graphics at the Pratt Institute of Art in New York City. When he was 19 years old, Zagar discovered the folk art installations of Clarence Schmidt in Woodstock, New York. Influenced by Schmidt, Picasso, Jean Debuffet, Curt Schwitters, Antonio Gaudi, Simon Rodia and Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, he was inspired to include the concepts of untrained artists as manifestations of fine art.
Zagar’s artwork is heavily influenced by his travels and the personal connections he has made with international folk and visionary artists. Isaiah and his wife Julia completed three years of Peace Corps service in Peru in the mid-1960s, working with folk artists in the Puno region near Lake Titicaca. Soon after, they settled in Philadelphia and began their lifelong work of creating public art and fostering creativity in all its varied forms.
In addition to his three-year Peace Corps service in Peru, Isaiah has completed artist residencies in Tianjin, China and Rajisthan, India. He also participated in a residency at the Kohler Ceramic Factory in Wisconsin.
Zagar’s work is included in the permanent collections of numerous art institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout the Philadelphia area. Zagar has received grants for his artistic excellence from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pew Charitable Trust for his work in Interdisciplinary Arts.
In A Dream tells The story of Julia Zagar and her husband Isaiah, a renowned mosaic artist, who for the past 30 years has covered more than 40,000 square feet of Philadelphia top to bottom with tile, mirror, paint, and concrete. It was directed by their son, Jeremiah Zagar.
During Philgrafika 2010, PMG will also host two community events in conjunction with the Free Library of Philadelphia’s One Book, One Philadelphia program:
What’s your story?, a family book-making activity, will take place on Sunday, January 21st, 2010 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.
Zine Machine, a zine-making workshop and presentation will take place on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2010, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
ABOUT PHILAGRAFIKA: Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious is the inaugural presentation of a multi-sited international festival of contemporary art that will occur in Philadelphia every four years. Philagrafika 2010 will focus on artistic practices that engage the visual, intelliectual, and creative frontiers in printmaking and how these approaches relate to social and political issues in the public sphere.
To Learn more about Philadelphia Magic Gardens check out their Website.