SUMR 15 at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

SUMR Blog

SUMR 15 at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

One of the City's Most Unique Attractions
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[Click image for larger] For its first 2015 cultural and recreational outing, Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics' Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program joined with the Wharton School's Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) for a Saturday visit to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens (PMG) at 10th and South Street.
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[Click images for larger] The outsider art site covers the footprint of what was formerly three row homes with a multi-level labyrinth whose every inch of surface is covered with mosaics of art and found objects. Above, left, is one of the site's several courtyards. Exploring are SUMR Scholars (l to r) Mei-Lynn Hua, of the University of Texas at Austin (green blouse), SPUR scholar Sagar Patel of the University of Pennsylvania (red shirt), and SUMR Scholar Anuvrat Jha, of Ohio State University. Above, right, SUMR Program Director Joanne Levy leads the way down into one of the site's grottos
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Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar is particularly fond of ceramics, broken mirror shards, bicycle wheels and colored glass bottles which he incorporated by the ton into his creation (above, left). Above, right, SUMR Scholar Shanarra Turner of the University of Michigan wanders through one of the tunnels of three dimensional mosaics.
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Wandering through other tunnels that open into grottos, SUMR Scholars Tobi Akindoju of Yale University and Jerome Watts of Haverford College take photos (above, left). Zagar's network of multi-level spaces (above, right) feature astounding quantities of original artworks, poetry verses, and literary excerpts.
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Above, left, SPUR Scholar Jordan Sanders explores bridge-like architecture and a stairway that winds down into a lower section of the structure that took Zagar 14 years to complete. Above, left, some tunnel-like walkways deadend in mini art galleries of weather-proof ceramics
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Capturing some of the visual overload on his smartphone (above, left) is SUMR scholar Enrique Torres Hernandez. In the 1960s, Zagar and his wife spent time in the Peace Corps in Peru and, after returning to Philadelphia, opened a folk art gallery specializing in Latin works. Over the years, many of the objects they imported (above, right) ended up embedded in the artist's Magic Gardens construction.
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Exploring a courtyard garden (above, left) are SUMR scholars (l to r) Tammy Jiang, Brown University; Tobi Akindoju; Brandon McKenzie, Swarthmore College; and Omar Mansour, Macalester College. Browsing the latest displays of work by other artists in the Magic Gardens museum building, are SUMR scholars (l to r) Anuvrat Jha; Tobi Akindoju; Mei-Lynn Hua; Kelly McClure, Cornell University; Brandon McKenzie; Shanarra Turner; Omar Mansour; Sharonya Vadakattu, University of Pennsylvania; and Tammy Jiang.
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Taking a break in another sun-dappled courtyard (above, left) are (l to r) Tobi Akindoju; Tammy Jiang; Brandon McKenzie; Omar Mansour; and a Magic Gardens guide. Above, right, SUMR Director (center) Joanne Levy chats with (l to r) Mei-Lynn Hua; Shanarra Turner; Enrique Torres Hernandez; Sharonya Vadakattu; and Rathnam Venkat, University of Pennsylvania.
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After working up an appetite at the Magic Gardens, the group proceeded down South Street for lunch at Jons Bar & Grille (above, left), a famed local eatery located in the former childhood home of Larry Fine, one of the Three Stooges (Larry, Moe and Curly). Enjoying their meal (above, right) are (l to r) SUMR scholars Omar Mansour and Tammy Jiang; SPUR scholar Jordan Sanders; and SUMR scholar Shanarra Turner
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Above, left, having a laugh are (l to r) SUMR scholars Adjoa Mante, Princeton University; Rathnam Venkat, University of Pennsylvania; and Jerome Watts. Peeking at the YouTube animal videos playing (above, right) on Jons' monitors are SUMR scholars Enrique Torres Hernandez; Brandon McKenzie; Tobi Akindoju; and Sharonya Vadakattu.
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Above, right, round the table (l to r) are Mei-Lynn Hua [SUMR]; Sagar Patel [SPUR]; John Han [SPUR]; Elliot Oblander [SPUR]; Michael Ruan [SPUR]; Kelly McClure [SUMR]; McClure's friend, Nicolas Garcia, University of Pennsylvania; Omar Mansour [SUMR]; Tammy Jiang [SUMR]; Jordan Sanders [SPUR]; Shanarra Turner [SUMR]; and SUMR Coordinator Safa Browne. Above, right, it was also Brandon McKenzie's birthday who was surprised with a mini chocolate cake with candle, the "Happy Birthday" song, and applause all around.