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In A Dream: Jeremiah Zagar’s document of his father

Isaiah Zagar: Magic Gardens Mosaic
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Isaiah Zagar: Magic Gardens Mosaic. Photo by Margaret Almon

A friend took me to see In a Dream at the Ambler Theater, a documentary about Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, made by his son Jeremiah.  Like this photo I took at the Magic Gardens, this film is an intimate experience.  Jeremiah Zagar started filming his father at his mother’s request, and out of over 200 hours of tape, a powerful mosaic of intense emotion and creativity emerges.  I was moved by an interview with the filmaker, where he describes filming a scene of his family disintegrating in front of his eyes, and how filming was a way to cope, “It was the same when my father and me were in the country and he was talking about the time he tried to commit suicide. If I took the camera away it was impossible to handle that idea. The camera made it less emotional and much easier to deal with.”

Isaiah Zagar talks about a counselor at the hospital, after his attempt at suicide, who said he needed to work, to put one thing next to another.  This process of one piece building on the next, the focus, the obsession, led to a magic world of mosaics in Philadelphia’s South Street, more than 100 murals.  One thing next to another also led to Jeremiah Zagar’s poetic and painful  images on the screen.

Related Posts:

The Magic Garden of Philadelphia:  Mosaic Immersion with Isaiah Zagar

Tiffany Dream Garden Mosaic: A Philadelphia Treasure

Tiffany Dream Garden Mosaic:  Flower Detail

Phillies in Mosaic:  Jonathan Mandell



  1. Margaret Almon says:

    The Ambler Theater only had it for one evening, but the producer said to look for it on HBO this summer!

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