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LOVE Sculpture to debut vibrant new look

The LOVE Park sculpture is finally coming back to Philly, and for the first time it will finally look as the artist intended.
The LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana will finally return to its home in Philadelphia on Feb. 13. (Charles Mostoller)

Philadelphia’s LOVE sculpture is one of the city’s most iconic pieces of public art.

The Robert Indiana sculpture was installed in 1976 and is so popular that the entire park at 16th and JFK where it used to sit is known far and wide as LOVE Park (technically, its name is “JFK Plaza”).

Despite its popularity with Philadelphians and tourists, for decades it’s been painted wrong  until now.

“In 2017, the artist’s representative informed the City that Philadelphia’s LOVE was originally purple, not blue,” the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy acknowledged Monday, explaining that a mix-up with color codes on the sculpture resulted in it being incorrectly repainted during restorations in 1988 and 1998. 

“Photos from the Temple University Archives of the Bicentennial were found that again confirmed the purple hue," Arts and Culture said in a press release. "The correction makes Philadelphia’s version of Indiana’s iconic LOVE unique, as it is the only one with purple color.”

The new, correctly-painted LOVE sculpture will make a very grand return to its home in LOVE Park Tuesday, just in time for Valentine’s Day on Wednesday.

City officials will parade the LOVE sculpture through the city, starting in Fairmount and making seven stops on its way to re-installation at its corner near 16th and JFK.

The fact that the parade will happen just days after the Eagles' Super Bowl victory parade is a coincidence, according to spokeswoman Carrie Leibrand. The LOVE sculpture parade has been planned for months.

“I think everyone will be very happy with two parades within one week of each other,” Leibrand said.

LOVE Park itself has technically been under renovation since a ground-breaking in February 2016, but unforeseen complexities delayed its reopening from last spring to December 2017 for Christmas Village. The park is open to the public, but a few more finishing touches like fresh plantings are still in store. Once completed, an official celebration and reopening of the park will be held later this spring.

“You’re just going to see it get better and better as the year goes on,” said Parks & Recreation spokeswoman Jennifer Crandall. “You can sit on a bench and have your lunch in the park even before the grand re-opening.”

If you go

The sculpture will make the following stops on its way back to LOVE Park, starting Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. in Fairmount, with 10-15 minute stops at each location.

-Joan of Arc statue, 25th and Pennsylvania Avenue.

-George Washington monument, Eakins Oval

-All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors, 20th Street and the Parkway 

-Logan Square Fountain

-AMOR, 18th and the Parkway

-Holocaust memorial, 16th and the Parkway;

-Arrival at LOVE Park (scheduled for 11:15 a.m.)

Future of the ‘Flying Saucer’

The city is currently seeking potential business partners interested in applying for their recently issued RFP (Request for Proposals) for a vendor to operate a concession stand inside the center.

Parks and Recreation officials envision the Flying Saucer as becoming “a vibrant hub for lunch breaks and after work cocktails, and a ‘must do’ dining experience when visiting Philadelphia,” according to the RFP. The spot will offer lunch, dinner, and generate revenue to help maintain the park itself.

A pre-proposal meeting tour will be held Feb. 15 at the Flying Saucer. The city said the building’s renovations will be completed by the fall.