Julia Zagar and her husband, the famous mosaic artist Isaiah, established Eye’s Gallery in its current location on South Street in 1968.
Sparked by the Zagar’s love for Latin American folk art, Eye’s Gallery has expanded into three floors of unique handpicked from around the world.
Isaiah and Julia, artists and urban pioneers, moved into the half-deserted area of Philadelphia known as lower South Street in 1968, having just completed a three year stint with the Peace Corps working as Art Advisors to the Ayamara and Inca people of the Andes mountains of Peru.
Julia and Isaiah helped the native communities organize their crafts for foreign market. They taught them to measure how much the products and the workers’ labor were worth, and how to meet the standard, western clothing quality and size scale requirements.
The Peace Corps gave a small amount of money to Julia and Isaiah monthly for their basic necessities. The couple spent half of this money to purchase handmade items from the locals and sold them to other Peace Corps workers or the few tourists who passed through the mountain village, 14 000 ft above sea level. They invested the profit in acquiring more materials for the villagers.
The Zagar’s business grew quickly and soon they had 60 employees producing beautiful folk art and knits to meet the demand. Upon returning to the US in 1968, Julia and Isaiah started from scratch. They settled down in Philadelphia, with nothing but some left-over crafts from Peru. They renovated a run-down, vacated building on South Street to live in, and that building came to be the Eye’s Gallery.
Artistically, Isaiah shifted from painting to making mosaics and his work can be seen not only all around South Street and Philadelphia but on the ceilings, walls and floors of Eye’s Gallery, as well.
Carole Shields came to the Eye’s in 1995 with an extensive background in buying and management. A South Street veteran since 1983, she stocks an eclectic merchandise mix suitable for any age or pocketbook, all while rocking the coolest outfits in Philadelphia.
Come visit us to see our latest displays, look through our vintage and new clothing, jewelry, and folk art, and to experience our unique atmosphere!