South Philly artist Isaiah Zagar in front of his newest mosaic-mural on South and Sch|Charles Mostoller1/3 South Philly artist Isaiah Zagar in front of his newest mosaic-mural on South and Sch|Charles Mostoller
Zagar's newest mural was formally unveiled Thursday.|Charles Mostoller2/3 Zagar's newest mural was formally unveiled Thursday.|Charles Mostoller
Zagar's newest mural was formally unveiled Thursday.|Charles Mostoller3/3 Zagar's newest mural was formally unveiled Thursday.|Charles Mostoller
One of South Street's most iconic artists was back in the neighborhood Thursday for the unveiling of his newest mural.
The mosaic-mural in Zagar's well-known style occupies the small road of Schell Street, off South Street between Eighth and Ninth streets.
He's added sections of the piece over the years, but formally cut the ribbon on the piece on Thursday afternoon.
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"The theme is people. I love people, South Street loves people," said Zagar, who is known for creating the nearby Magic Gardens at 10th and South streets — which draws an estimated 60 to 90,000 visitors annually.
"The magic has never left South Street," Zagar said. "It's perpetuated by all the young people that keep coming here and finding themselves here."
Zagar has been practicing his unique blend of Pervuian inspirations in mosiacs and murals that use pieces of mirrors prominently since 1968. His most-known creation is the Magic Gardens -- a three-dimensional sculpture garden that invites visitors to walk down pathways lined with his colorful, hypnotic designs.
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Emily Smith, executive director of the Magic Gardens, said Zagar's murals have contributed significantly to beautifying the neighborhood around South Street.
"Isaiah's fingerprints are everywhere, all over the city," Smith said. "This wall used to be hit with graffiti all the time. That won't happen anymore."
Michael Harris, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District, credited Zagar's work with consistently drawing people to the neighborhood.
"People are always going up and down this street and taking pictures," Harris said. "There's over 200 of his pieces around here. They're all public art. It's pretty staggering."