The Oval is Open! Eakins Oval Pop-Up Park Kicks Off, Starts Summer of Programming
The summer season officially kicked off for the Oval on Friday July 15th. The seasonal pop-up park located right on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is entering its fourth year, continuing to provide the amenities that Philadelphians love. Friday’s event featured music, crafts for kids, and free samples from local food trucks Lil Pop Shop and Cow and the Curd.
Serving as a parking lot throughout most of the year, the 25,000 square foot Oval sits in the center of Eakins Oval, directly in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The central location of the park offers a respite from the heat of summer for patrons of the museums in the area.
“We started it four years ago as a way to activate this surface parking lot at Eakins Oval and it’s become such a huge success,” explained Kathryn Ott, commissioner of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve had over 100,000 people come through over the past few years. There’s something for everybody. It’s a great partnership between us and the conservancy and it’s just a wonderful place to be in Philadelphia this summer.”
This year, Ott and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation had local mural artist Brad Carney paint a mural to adorn the asphalt of the Oval. Carney created “Rhythm and Hues,” a mural with music influences to accompany this year’s addition of playable instruments to the park.
Carney is a Tyler School of Art alum and has worked with the Mural Arts Program as a Lead Instructor and Summer Internship Coordinator. He also worked with Art Jawn for the DNC Donkeys, a social media campaign and scavenger hunt to engage visitors in the excitement of the Convention.
“Rhythm and Hues” is an abstract and interactive art experience with bold colors.
“I utilized abstract designs, patterns, line work, and bright vivid color to bring a sense of play and whimsical beauty to the mural,” explained Carney. “I’m hoping people get a sense of wonderment out of it and play around the lines and just enjoy it.”
According to Ott, every Thursday will be a jam night, utilizing the pianos, drums, and guitars that will be installed at the Oval. Along with the instruments, the Oval features ping pong tables, oversized chess, a rotating collection of food trucks and the much loved beer garden. In addition, the Oval will have set events on specific days each week.
When the Democratic National Convention comes to Philadelphia from July 25th-28th, the Oval will also feature Political Quizzo (Monday, July 25) and the Truth Booth, an interactive video-recording booth.
The Truth Booth by Cause Collective is a portable, inflatable shaped like a cartoon speech bubble allowing for two minute video responses from the public.
According to the Oval’s website, Wednesdays are wellness day, Thursdays are for art and culture, Fridays are movie nights, Saturday is game day, and Sunday is family fun day. A list of upcoming events can be found on the Oval’s website (theovalphl.org).
Since its first iteration, the Oval has been a staple of summer in Philadelphia and that will continue this summer as it draws patrons from across the city.
“When we started the Oval, it was really for the 70,000 people that live within a ten minute walking distance, but it’s really become a regional destination for people all over the city,” explained Ott. “It’s great for local residents, it’s great for tourists, it’s great for day camps. We encourage everyone to come check it out.”