Rolling out the carpet for magical summer pop-up park at Eakins Oval

Candy Coated, formerly Candy Depew, is an artist who always wanted to make something you could see from space. This may be as close as she will get.

The parking lot of Eakins Oval, on the Parkway in Philadelphia, is 450 feet long by 80 feet wide. Coated’s candy-colored “Magic Carpet” will take every inch of the space. It should be plainly visible via Google Earth when it opens to the public Wednesday.

The Magic Carpet is the centerpiece of The Oval, created by Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation. It is the third major, temporary pop-up park in Philadelphia this summer, joining the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s tropical garden in a vacant lot on South Street and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s floating park at Penn’s Landing.

This is the second year of transformation for The Oval. Last year, is was a beach environment. This year, the parks and recreation department worked with the Association for Public Art, which commissioned  Coated to come up with a design tapping into her language of mystical symbols of diamond, leaf and heart.

Coated has shown work in many galleries in Philadelphia and beyond, including a room-sized installation in the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Perelman Building wherein she splashed candy-colored vinyl decals across the walls and floor.

“I use the same symbols over and over and over,” said Coated, describing how she can manipulate the shapes to take on different meanings. “For example, if I change the diamond color to green, it’s now an emerald. An emerald has all these different associations. If I change it to a ruby, it also has different associations.”

Versed in metaphysics and alchemy, Coated has devised a complex symbolic language. City officials had less erudite goals: They asked her to include pingpong tables, water misters, and sandboxes – elements that proved popular last year.

She was more than happy to oblige.

“Love Park is just down the way, and we have this beautiful Parkway full of sculptors — we have the Calder legacy,” said Coated. “I see people taking pictures like crazy at Love Park. People love stuff about love. If you have actual hearts in a space and they are taking pictures of each other in a heart-filled environment full of color, it exudes goodness.”

The Magic Carpet will also feature a stage for performances, food trucks, and an adjacent beer garden. The Oval and its carpet will be open until Aug. 17.

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