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MAIN VISUAL ART CONCEPTS: Variety * Unity * Scale * Texture * Rhythm * Movement.

"The tile ... can make a floor, it can make a wall, it can make a ceiling. The mixtures of the things I put together, sometimes they make sense and sometimes they make nonsense."

ART TECHNIQUE: Zagar prefers a dry, porous, unpainted surface. He first paints a bold line drawing to define shapes and images. He then attaches pieces (mostly ceramic and glass, but also mirror, plastic, metal, and other materials) with a water-based adhesive. After the adhesive sets, he mixes grout (3 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement, and sometimes a bright colorant) and fills in the spaces between the small pieces. Zagar also creates his own handmade tiles, often with words stamped or painted on them.

MOVEMENT and MIRRORS: The arrangement of the mirrors on the second floor of the Magic Gardens is a perfect example of depicting flowing movement through the use of line and shape. For Zagar, mirrors are magical. He uses them extensively in his work to heighten the light, to reflect and include the viewer, and to cast a spiritual glow into the spaces of the gardens. To learn about the history and science of mirrors, see A&A online.

RECYCLING GLASS: Since the 1960s, when Zagar began installing glass bottles in the walls of his Magic Gardens, the value of glass as a recyclable commodity has dropped around 50 percent. Reasons for the problems with recycling glass include the labor-intensive removal of paper and metal, separation by colors, and competition from other materials such as aluminum and plastic.

DETAIL: In art, sometimes it is necessary to look closely at just one section, which is called a "detail." In the case of this resource, the close up of the wall is a detail of the photo above it. Can you find the place where this detail is located?

MATH: The eight-pointed star, or octagram, is depicted in many different cultures. At its core, this star comprises two overlapping rectangles, offset by 90 degrees. People have attached various spiritual meanings to it. The design is found in ancient Islamic, Egyptian, Buddhist and Christian works of art. In the United States, it may be seen as the "Lone Star" quilt design. Some Delft tiles from the Netherlands use a similar star. The compass may be the most universal tool that uses the eight-pointed star.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Isaiah Zagar was born in 1939, and will turn 79 years old in March 2018. Although his art resembles that of a self-taught artist, he is a trained artist. He attended art school at Pratt Institute and graduated with a BFA in painting and graphics in 1960.

VIDEO ART: In 2008, Isaiah's son, Jeremiah, created the video about his father, titled In a Dream. Do an Internet search for videos about "Philadelphia's Magic Gardens." The videos give a great sense of scale and place. With the use of drones, we see the Gardens from new perspectives. The Magic Gardens website is a great place to begin:

PHYSICS: Bicycle wheel spokes are arranged between the rim and the hub to be able to bear the weight of the person riding the bicycle. The arrangement of the spokes has evolved to lower the weight, and to increase the strength of the wheel. Crossed spokes are stronger than radial spokes.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: Isaiah Zagar (pronounced "ZAY-gar") and his wife, Julia, lived in the South Street neighborhood of Philadelphia in the late 1960s. They were instrumental in protesting the city's plans to build a freeway through this area. In 1 994, Isaiah began working on the Magic Garden as an art installation.

He worked on the project for eight years before the owners noticed. Through court battles, negotiations and public awareness campaigns, the Magic Gardens was established as a nonprofit in 2008. Today, it is a fixture in the community, is a huge attraction to the public, and has inspired numerous other forms of artistic and economic development.

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Title Annotation:A&A Art Print: Respond and Connect
Author:Zagar, Isaiah
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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