What is a LOVEwork?
The LOVEworks program is a state-wide branding initiative designed to promote historic life experiences in Virginia and strengthen awareness of the “Virginia is for Lovers” message. My LOVE sign joined a collection of more than 100 large scale LOVEworks that are installed throughout the Commonwealth. These LOVEworks spark community pride, attract tourists, and spread the message that “Virginia is for Lovers.”
Artist Chesley De Leon poses with Virginia Beach Councilmen Ben Davenport (left) and John Uhrin (right) at the unveiling of her new LOVEwork. Photograph by Jenny Ditona
How did you find inspiration for this artwork?
While I was brainstorming design ideas, I thought a lot about what this city has that makes me proud to call it my home.
However, since I was creating a public piece of art for all walks of life to enjoy, I didn’t want to only encapsulate what I love but what others love as well. So I asked and received input from family, friends, coworkers, and other acquaintances about what Virginia Beach means to them.
The result is a simple yet eye-catching design that reflects major aspects of the area and the community.
What does each letter represent?
The L has the ViBe logo and a paintbrush to represent this blossoming and vibrant creative district, which is also the home base for this LOVEwork. Of course this installation would not have happened without the help of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the City of Virginia Beach, and Signs of Success, but the ViBe Creative District played a vital role and is the reason this LOVEwork came to fruition.
The O depicts the city’s most popular attraction and my favorite place to be, the beach. After all, Virginia Beach’s 35-mile coastline does hold the Guinness World Record as the “world’s longest stretch of pleasure beach.”
The V is a rainbow-colored peace sign that represents the city’s diverse, friendly, and easygoing atmosphere. People from all different backgrounds and walks of life are welcomed here. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, you will get along with this area and its community because of its lively atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle.
The E has the Town Center logo, which depicts The Westin and the Armada Hoffler Tower, to represent the urban life. Virginia Beach is constantly taking steps to move forward and grow in population and popularity.
What did you find most rewarding about this sculpture?
Since the LOVE sign is fully accessible to the public, it is a fun piece for people to engage with and to take pictures of and with it. This city has so much to offer and this LOVEwork will become another attraction for people to check off their list of things to see because it literally solidifies the fact that Virginia Beach is for lovers.
How did you get this opportunity and what is your art background?
I responded to an open call for designs via ViBe’s social media. Throughout my life, I thought creating things was just a hobby of mine. However, while I was obtaining my B.A. in Historic Preservation, I learned how to use numerous computer programs, took art classes and used those resources to produce a medley of creative things. I started playing around with the programs and taught myself how to create graphics on it. Something that I thought I dabbled in, turned into my passion.
The LOVEwork is located at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Library in the ViBe Creative District. Photograph by Jenny Ditona