The sculpture is designed to showcase some of Lynchburg’s outdoor activities, such as hiking and skateboarding
Many people do not usually associate art and recreation, but local artist Paul Clements connects the two subjects with a sculpture located at the Percival Island trailhead in downtown Lynchburg.
Clements was commissioned by the James River Council for the Arts and Humanities and the City of Lynchburg to create the sculpture, which spells out the word “love.” The sculpture was unveiled in May of 2013. According to President of the James River Council Terri Cornwell, one of the goals of the sculpture was to bring attention to art in the city.
Clements explained that this was not his first sculpture, however. According to Clements, most of his artwork takes the form of sculptures. Clements is also an experienced glass blower and has been working with metals for seven years, but the LOVE sculpture was his first completely metal sculpture.
According to Clements, each letter in the LOVE sculpture represents some of the outdoor activities that are available in the Lynchburg area. The “L” has footprints across it, representing hiking. The “O” is decorated with bicycle wheels for trail biking. Attached to the “V” are two canoe paddles that represent water rafting and other river activities. The “E” is adorned with skateboard wheels to represent the pastime.
The bright, candy-apple red letters are made out of powder-covered aluminum. They each stand six feet tall and are mounted onto a two-foot tall catwalk, which is held in place by cement.
Clements said that he had a few sleepless nights wondering if the sculpture was sturdy enough to withstand the attention it would receive.
He worried that if people climbed on the letters, either they or the letters would fall. He also worried about weather conditions and how they would affect the sculpture.
With these concerns in mind, Clements decided to restructure the sculpture to make it stronger and more weather resistant. He used the structure of airplane wings and inserted 1 1/2 inch bars of aluminum where he anticipated people would stand on the sculpture.
Clements said that his sculpture is one of 22 LOVE sculptures that are a part of the VTC’s oversized LOVEworks. According to virginia.org, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) has created oversized LOVEwork across the state as a part of the Virginia is For Lovers campaign to promote the message that “Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.”
According to Cornwell, the Virginia Is For Lovers slogan has been very successful for a number of years and has been voted one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all time.
Born and raised in Lynchburg, Clements says that he is very familiar with the area and believes that his first public outdoor sculpture is in a great spot.
“Everybody likes it,” Clements said. “I knew that people would, but I didn’t know that people would at that level.”
Cornwell said she wouldn’t be surprised if the LOVE sculpture received more traffic around Valentine’s Day. She also said that many people have taken pictures with the sculpture for their Christmas cards.
According to the Virginia is For Lovers website, visitors are encouraged to take photos with the LOVEworks and share with loved ones on Facebook at Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter with the special hashtag #LOVEVA.