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One Tank Trip: Magic Gardens

By Karin Mallett
Published On: Aug 16 2011 09:08:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 03 2011 05:20:40 AM CDT

There are people who see the beauty in the everyday.

PHILADELPHIA -

There are people who see the beauty in the everyday.

In Philadelphia, one man turned his passion for the ordinary into an extraordinary art experience.

The Magic Gardens on South Street took more than 12 years for one man to complete.

"The mosaic sort of wandered into this space," said Ellen Owens, executive director.

It's the vision of muralist Isaiah Zagar.

"There are amazing amounts of things that we still don't know are here," said Owens.

The installation shares Zagar's story: a love affair with his wife Julia, whose image is ever present. He paid homage to artists he admires and the beauty he finds in discarded objects.

You'll surely never look at your dinnerware the same way again.

"People literally drop off things here at our doorstep," said Owens. "Dilapidated bowls or cups, or even people's China that breaks on a move."

There are guided tours of the sparkling space, but you can also wander around on your own.

Zagar's love for the city is unending, and he had a hand in saving it.

He and his wife moved to South Street in 1968 and were part of an effort to keep the neighborhood from being demolished.

The city had planned to build a highway known as the Crosstown Expressway. Instead, South Street evolved as an artistic mecca.

Round trip, Karin put 119 miles on her odometer.