Last weekend the beau and I took a mini-break outside the city, centered around a concert in Atlantic City Saturday night. After spending one of the hottest days of the summer at the beach at Asbury Park, we made our way to the sad state of affairs that is AC, thoroughly enjoyed our show, then hit the road the next morning to spend the day in Philly. Each time I return to a city, I like to do something new, so I spent some time researching Philly online and came across a New York Times piece extolling the virtues of a modern city that, like Boston, often gets overshadowed by its historical significance. Here’s what caught my eye:
LABYRINTH OF ART Some places can’t be fully captured by just photos and words. That sums up Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020-1022 South Street; 215-733-0390; www.philadelphiasmagicgardens.org), an art center and endearingly bizarre outdoor maze of mortar, bicycle tires, bottles, textiles, artwork and tchotchkes. The Philadelphia mosaic muralist Isaiah Zagar’s magnum opus is a multitextured, multilayered labyrinth that leaves visitors amused, if maybe puzzled. “I think it communicates something, but I don’t know what that is,” said Mr. Zagar, who frequently roams his creations and obligingly fields questions from visitors.
Sounds like fun! From the gate on the street it might not look like there’s that much more to see, but trust me—it’s worth the $5 admission to explore the walkways and grottos, relax in the many tucked-away seating areas, examine the incredible details up-close, and just experience the place. It was a bit surreal, like Gaudi’s Barcelona masterpiece Casa Batlló reimagined by Tim Burton at art camp. Like the Times says, it’s not a place that can be fully described in pictures or in words; it has to be seen to be believed. Next time you’re in Philly, take an hour or two to escape from everything and take in the truly magical half-block art installation that is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (and don’t miss the adjacent gallery, filled with surprisingly affordable funky arts-and-crafts pieces).
A video tour and history of Isaiah Zagar’s magical masterpiece: