Last year, I went to Philadelphia for a conference. I had been there before, but didn’t remember much about the smaller things I saw. I remember going out to Fairmont Park and my friend, Kathy, coming to tour around with me. I wrote about the quilt shops I visited on the most recent trip, but never wrote about the City.
Recently, I read a FB post and was reminded of the Magic Gardens. I had seen it my first time through, I think, but was enchanted and mesmerized by it when we walked by on this most recent trip.
The Magic Gardens is on South Street, which is a funky street full of funky little mom and pop shops. There is an entry fee, but a person can see quite a lot from the street.
The place is amazing. The walls are filled with broken pieces of tile and glass. There are archways and walls made from concrete embedded with different types of crockery and tile all done in a mosaic style.
The place really looks like a mess from certain angles.
One thing I liked about it was the reuse of materials. I was particularly enamored with the bicycle wheels embedded in the tops of the walls. There is something about the shape that is appealing. I don’t remember seeing bicycle wheels embedded as if they were windows, but I think that would be an interesting look and I wonder if they will do that sometime in the future?
The details are magnificent as well.
I remember when we remodeled part of our house (an agonizing process, if there ever was one!) that we looked at all sort of interesting things, including tile. There are wonderful tiles out there that I loved, but didn’t match our color scheme or were too much or were too expensive.
In the Magic Garden I saw some very interesting tiles being used even if they were broken. They were used and fit in perfectly. They were used, but not used randomly. The details show care and thought in the designs.
I really want to do something like this for my porch. I want it to be interesting and I want people to stop an look closer before they ring the doorbell.
There are messages as well. This one is a common one, but no less poignant and the artist took care to embed it in the structure and make it timeless by not referring to specific wars. It makes me think of specific wars, which, I guess is common because of my time. In the future, perhaps people will think of other wars and wonder. I hope not, though.
The message also makes me wonder if the artist really believes their own message? Does s/he fight with other artists for space in the Magic Garden or for materials or for money. Do they fight because they are lovers or do they consider their message as applying to their lives as well?
I saw themes as well. While the photo with the dishes was on a nearby building not in the Magic Garden, it illustrates what I mean. This mosaic piece had a number of items that reflected real life. Also, the shape of the dishes is carried out farther than just around the dishes themselves. Two themes.
There is a lot of texture in these pieces, which adds to the entirety.
Around the Magic Gardens are mosaics that have been affixed to other walls. I don’t know if these are projects of the Magic Gardens programs or if people in the area have been inspired by the mosaics. I know that air conditioners and sign posts don’t make for excellent photos, but I like the way the mosaics have been worked around real life. We can’t do without the windows and signposts, so why not make them part of the landscape? Why not work around them and execute the vision rather than becoming frustrated that the wall isn’t perfectly blank? I am glad the artists worked through their challenges. We need more art in our every day lives.
I have so many more photos, but think I will save them for another day.