THE buildings that Isaiah Zagar calls his “Temples of Art” squat heavily along the South Street corridor in Philadelphia. He has blanketed their outer walls with shimmering mosaics of broken mirror, shattered tile, cracked crockery and enough signs and symbols to confound Umberto Eco.
The murals — a hodgepodge of Old Testament prophecy and Whitmanesque self-beatification — chronicle the private life of Mr. Zagar, whom critics typically dismiss as an outsider artist. “No museum was willing to exhibit my work, so I put it on public display in the street,” said Mr. Zagar, 70, a Brooklyn-born bohemian. “I use art as a spider web, to trap people and change how they look, feel, dream.”