CandyCoated at PMA & Free Library

Sparkle Bit. CandyCoated (Candy Depew). 2002. Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Collection

Sparkle Bit. CandyCoated (Candy Depew). 2002. Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Collection

CandyCoated, the artist formerly known as Candy Depew, has a show on view right now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In CandyCoated Wonderland, on view from May 4, 2013 – November 17, 2013, she creates a world of childhood, using fancy dress costumes from the Museum’s collection in a setting made up of her silkscreened fabrics, ceramic wall gems and vinyl decals.

Her print Sparkle Bit, 2003, is part of Philagrafika’s Invitational Portfolio for 2003 in the Print & Picture Collection of the Free Library. The print is a candyland landscape, with blue and green flower forms under a pink sky with orange clouds and a red sparkly sun. Up-beat and joyous, you can’t help but smile when you look at it. An extra added pleasure is her use of metallic inks that sparkle when you see it in person, and an equally sparkly vinyl decal over the sun.

Sparkle Bit (detail). CandyCoated (Candy Depew. 2002. Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Collection.

Sparkle Bit (detail). CandyCoated (Candy Depew. 2002. Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Collection.

But her work is not simply a joyous shout-out to the innocence of childhood. Her use of fabric pattern, ceramics, and print brings everyday decoration of our houses into the rarified world of fine art. She is an aesthetic subversive, merging high and low art, the vernacular of middle class decoration with the “serious” world of painting and sculpture. This is a familiar stance for printmaking, which is often seen as a minor art, not on the same plane as its bigger siblings. This was one of the themes of Pop Art, after all. And it is familiar to those of us raised on the architectural and cultural writings of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, who have famously argued that Main Street is almost all right, and that we have much to learn from Las Vegas and Levittown, and other vernacular cityscapes of the late 20th century. Their approach brings a sociological perspective to the world of architecture and design. CandyCoated could be their free-wheeling Design Art niece.

It’s a big world and there’s alot to look and and love.

For more on CandyCoated, visit her website: http://www.candycoated.org/current.html

and her Pew Fellowship page: http://www.pcah.us/fellowships/grants-awarded/grantees-2002-candy-depew

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