Raise your voice in support of Philadelphia's Painted Bride!


Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens seeks to protect important mosaic mural.


Postcard for the “Skin of the Bride” exhibition, 9/19/1993. Don Camera, 1993.

Postcard for the “Skin of the Bride” exhibition, 9/19/1993. Don Camera, 1993.

OLD CITY, PHILADELPHIA:  When it was announced in December that the Painted Bride Art Center was going up for sale, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) immediately recognized the risk that this posed to the roughly 7,000 square foot mosaic mural on the building’s façade.  PMG’s mission is to preserve, interpret, and provide access to Isaiah Zagar’s unique mosaic environment and his public murals. Zagar’s mural at the Painted Bride, located at 230-36 Vine Street, is one of his most iconic works.

In the early 1990s Zagar was invited to work on the façade of the Painted Bride building, formerly the Eastern Elevator Co. It provided one of the largest canvases to date for Zagar’s work and was the first time he created a full sidewalk to roof mosaic mural.

The decision to choose Zagar was apt, since both the artist and the Painted Bride began on South Street in the late 1960s and both were artistically, socially, and politically active in the South Street community. Today, their collaboration on the mosaic façade in Old City commemorates their shared history and dedication to the arts in Philadelphia.

In his 1993 article in the Philadelphia Daily News, Ron Avery wrote: “From sidewalk to roof every inch is colorfully painted and decorated in wild, imaginative detail. There are swirls, circles, seashells, Chinese writing and bits and pieces of ceramic birds, butterflies, flowers, human figures, and ceramic feet. ‘Isaiah took a simple industrial building with no character and made it fascinating,’ says Gerry Givnish, executive director of the Painted Bride. Zagar’s weird art has given the Painted Bride near landmark status.”

PMG’s Executive Director Emily Smith remarks, “As community members, I think it's important to fight for the character of our city. The history and culture of our streets is what makes Philadelphia such a special place to live. What does it mean if we don't try to keep our art and the history behind it from being destroyed?”

The application for historical designation would protect the outside of the Painted Bride building from being altered or demolished. It will be reviewed at a hearing at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, April 18, at 1515 Arch Street. PMG encourages the public to read the application, and if they support it, voice their opinion and attend the hearing.


Emily Smith | 215-733-0390 ext. 113 | esmith@phillymagicgardens.org


ABOUT PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS (www.philadelphiasmagicgardens.org)

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is a nonprofit visionary art environment and community arts center located in Isaiah Zagar’s largest public artwork.

Spanning half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street, the museum includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. Zagar created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists and environments.

PMG is a unique Philadelphia destination that inspires creativity and community engagement by providing educational opportunities and diverse public programming to thousands of visitors each year. For more information, visit www.phillymagicgardens.org.


If you would like to contribute and write a letter of support for the historical designation for the Painted Bride façade , please send to:

Philadelphia Historical Commission
1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Isaiah Zager in front of mosaic. Ted Degener, 2014.

Isaiah Zagar in front of one of his vibrant mosaics. Ted Degener, 2014.

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