A Sanctuary of Ideas // Philadelphia's Magic Gardens by Taylor Adams

I recently visited Philadelphia for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much inspiration I took away from the weekend. Simply walking through the streets I noticed a spectacular range of color - from lush greens and earthy brick tones to the dazzling mosaics and unexpected pieces of street art hidden around every corner, I was constantly stopping to snap a photo.  

Among this impressive range of color was of course Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. This visionary art environment created by Isaiah Zagar left me entirely fascinated.

On the vacant lots near his studio, Zagar spent years constructing multi-layer mosaic walls out of found objects. What began in the late 1960's as an attempt to beautiful the South Street neighborhood, these "gardens" grew into a space that not only helped revitalize the area then, but still actively inspire and encourage community engagement. 

I prefer work that appears to come out of a changing focus.
— Isaiah Zagar

From bicycle wheels, glass bottles, china plates, kitchen tiles, and fragments of mirrors... Everywhere you look there's something new to see, and something new to discover that you may not have noticed at first glance. Walking among these walls, you get the sense that they're truly telling a story. Conversations in color and form, every surface right down to the floor is a mapping process of Zagar's thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Through letters strung together tile by tile, anecdotes and personal narratives refer to fragments of Zagar's life. And all of the sudden you feel as if you may be walking through the grottos and stairwells of his mind.

I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasties.
— Isaiah Zagar

This intricate display of visual information creates an impressive space that allows you to be completely immersed within an artwork. It truly speaks to the accessibility of art, for something as ordinary as a bicycle tire can be transformed with a new perspective. I'm happy to know that places like this exist - I think it's important for people to be shown that art doesn't always have to be a painting on a wall. It can be a feeling, a place, an experience. 


From What I Remember // Reconstructing A Landscape by Taylor Adams

Whenever I step into the world, whether I am conscious of it or not, I like to think that I am cataloging everything I see and experience, and storing it for future reference. Every color, sound, and texture gets filed away, and all the little extraordinary moments too - the ones that are not easy to capture by camera or word. The way the wind whispers through tall grass or the softness of a mist of rain masking the treetops as it delicately falls to meet the ground.

Some of these moments get collected into folders - folders of places. The place with golden light, the place where the storms roll in, the beach I love most, the lake I grew up on..


My sister and I took a walk along the road that leads to our family's house on Lake Keowee. Along this road a field expanse stretches up and tumbles down to chase the rolling land, and with it comes the sounds and colors of the lake I call home. Home to countless summers running barefoot and carefree.  Bug bites and fresh berries, burnt marshmallows and fireworks, sunsets and rope swings, waterfalls and secret coves, tan legs and red clay.  Add in spring with fresh blooms and sweet breezes, autumn with crisp leaves piled high in every color, holidays with pine trees and chilly air wrapping everything in a blanket of soft grey...


All of these memories, all of these experiences are components of this place, right down to its soil and water. Hand-stitched into the fibers of the landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future. Filing them carefully into a folder in my mind, I carry each moment with me as valuable resource.

Hand-stitched into the fibers of this landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future.

So I take out this folder of memories, open it up and let it spill out its color and form onto my surface. Speaking in energy, breathing in color - my memories build a space that tells their story. They reconstruct the landscape from the silky waters of the lake to the rugged mountains in the distance, and every day that begins and ends resting upon their silhouettes.  


"From What I Remember"
Thread, Ink & Acrylic on wood panel
11 x 14 in
This piece is available for sale here.


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Studio Scenes by Taylor Adams

Find these VW Bus prints on my  Etsy shop .

Find these VW Bus prints on my Etsy shop.

Having a studio space is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. After going awhile without one, it’s incredible the difference it makes to have a space that is purely dedicated to creating, a space that you don’t have to share with living or sleeping.

My work is very much a form of discovery through process -- in other words it can get pretty messy. Through dripping, splattering, pouring and splashing, I explore my surfaces and learn from my media.
I believe it’s this freedom to make a mess that makes all the difference when creating. It's the freedom to explore, spill, and make mistakes that leads to the discoveries. When I need a break from my visuals, I can walk away - let a piece in progress sit, give it time to breathe, and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

My studio is nowhere near as big as I would like it to be, nothing close to my dream spaces on Pinterest. My 7 ft desk takes up one wall, and it's often so scattered with various projects, that I have paintings populating my smaller work table and a few scattered across the floor as well. The other wall was homemade by my brother and divides a dining area in the house, thus creating my little space. I love having this wall because I can paint on it, write on it, and hammer as many nails as I please while I'm constantly hanging and rearranging pieces.

I have a collection of findings that I like to keep in my studio as sources of inspiration. Old books, pieces of driftwood, an assortment of empty frames (as seen above), scraps of material and more. Okay now I sound like a hoarder, but I promise it's not that excessive. Perhaps my favorite, and something I always like to keep on my desk is a little collection of various shells, coral, rocks, and bits of sea glass that I've gathered from places I've traveled. I like the idea of always having a physical piece of the different landscapes I've walked across and marveled at, and I find the textures and colors to be a constant source of inspiration.

Wherever I wander, I'm always thinking about how I can channel what I see and experience back into my studio and into my work. The good news is, there's plenty to explore out there, even in the ordinary day.

Find me on Instagram to see more of my daily explorations and process.

Keep Going, Keep Going, Keep Going by Taylor Adams

“But in order to get there, you may have to break down the walls of whatever it is that’s holding you back first. Ignore the doubt - it’s not your friend - and just keep going, keep going, keep going.”
— Lauren Graham, Talking As Fast As I Can

Sometimes you read just the right book at just the right time and you're reminded of some truths you needed to hear. I recently read Lauren Graham's new book, Talking As Fast As I Can. I love books of personal essays like this because I find it so encouraging and inspiring to read about the early stages of accomplished figures striving to live their dreams. It's comforting to remember that every person chasing a dream must endure the trials and tribulations that come along with it. It's going to be tough, that's the truth - but that probably means it'll also be worth it. Every dream has its own timeline and it's not always going to line up with the one in your head - the important part is learning to appreciate the journey, trust the process, & keep going, keep going, keep going.