Saturday, February 6, 2016

Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

Isaiah Zagar is not just a storied member of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers - he's a one-man Philly institution. To call him one-of-a-kind is like calling Harry Kalas a sportscaster.

Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

Zagar by one of his walls in a photo from his Web site by Gabe Kirchheimer.
Zagar by one of his walls in a photo from his Web site by Gabe Kirchheimer.

Isaiah Zagar is not just a storied member of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers - he's a one-man Philly institution. To call him one-of-a-kind is like calling Harry Kalas a sportscaster.

Zagar's colorful and kooky mosaics are quickly identifiable on walls throughout the city (though it must be said there are also a lot of highest-form-of-flattery walls by others as well), and especially in the area around South Street. In the midst of gray rectangular buildings these colorful jump-cut designs and reflective surfaces make for walls that unquestionably add welcome zip and zest to the urban landscape.

But it's one thing to see a wall in the midst of a cityscape, and another to be in the midst of these walls. So if you haven't been through the amazing immersive artwork that is Zagar's Magic Gardens at 1020 South Street, your prime opportunity comes tomorrow when Zagar will be on hand for a celebration of the gardens and the release tonight of In a Dream, the movie made by his son Jeremiah (Ritz at the Bourse locally - more national release info here). Food, music and fun are promised, as well as hour-long walking tours through the South Street area to see some of Zagar's famed creations.

Whether or not you see the movie or make it down to South Street tomorrow, you can get a taste of what it's all about in this audio clip from yesterday, when Zagar and I skipped out on the Dumpster Diver meeting two blocks away to wander through the Gardens as he mused on various aspects and influences. This is a small snippet from that conversation; check back here for the full tour in a later Dumpster Diver Dispatch.

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About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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