August 16, 2009
HBO documentary spotlights Uptown's mosaic artist
Isaiah Zagar, the Philadelphia artist who designed Uptown's mosaic murals, installed last summer on two buildings in the 1300 block of Washington Avenue, is featured in an HBO documentary airing for the first time this week, on Wednesday night.
Zagar, 70, was brought here by then-Mayor Gary Becker. The two 75-ft. long mosaics he created for $10,000 are -- so far, anyway -- the only successful parts of the Artists Relocation Program (unless anyone counts the more controversial Nic Noblique sculpture at 10th Street and Washington Avenue, which cost four times as much.) The mosaics, created with the labor of many young volunteers brought together by RCEDC, the city and the Uptown Business Improvement District, cost far less than others Zagar has been commissioned to do around the country.
The documentary, made by his son, Jeremiah, over a seven-year period, is titled, "In a Dream." It was screened here last June for the volunteers working on Uptown's murals, but aside from showings at independent film festivals hasn't been offered to a wide audience until now.
An article in today's New York Times describes Zagar's murals as "a hodgepodge of Old Testament prophecy and Whitmanesque self-beautification."