A Mosaics Exhibition at Magic Gardens

If you’re going to host a juried exhibition of up-and-coming mosaic artists, there’s probably no more apt venue than Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.

That was the thinking of the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia, anyway.

And when Shattering Expectations: Mosaic 2014 opened in early March, the location paid off in spades.

“We put it in the belly of the beast, where there are mosaics on the floors, walls and ceilings,” says Nancie Mills Pipgras, who curated the exhibition of eight artists’ work. “There were 400 people at the opening – the largest opening ever for the Magic Gardens.”

The Magic Gardens project is a work-in-progress for Zagar, who’s been layering mosaics on South Street for decades now. It’s a visionary art environment, gallery, and community arts center that preserves, interprets, and provides access to his mosaics and public murals. Inside, visitors can view folk art statues, bicycle wheels, glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors.

In short, it’s a fun house for mosaic lovers.

Pipgras was asked to jury five artists who’d submitted work for the regional exhibition, and then invite three more of her own choosing. The work of one deals with the cosmos in general, and the Great Red Spot of Jupiter in particular. Another’s mosaics are concerned with mapping and cartography on a personal level, while still another creates subway goddesses inspired by Durga, the eight-armed Indian goddess.

“She’s holding a Starbucks coffee in one hand, a handbag in another and a pair of Uggs in another,” she says.

Modern mosaics are evolving, she says, with distinct voices rising to the top. These eight are among them. “They have something to say, they understand the mosaic language and what you can do with color, texture, relief, light, and materiality,” she says.

And now they’ve got context too, in the gallery at the Magic Gardens on Philadelphia’s South Street.

The exhibition runs through April 20.

For more information, go to:http://www.phillymagicgardens.org/news/exhibitions

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