Next Wednesday morning folks in Portsmouth who believe in art and hope will gather at the seawall near Tidewater Yacht Marina to celebrate Virginia’s newest “LOVE” sculpture.
The sculpture was designed and created by Orlen Stauffer and Irving Wolff, both Portsmouth artists.
“Our iconic Virginia is for Lovers brand is about love – pure and simple, and has been for more than 45 years,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, in a press release. “We are excited to share the LOVE at locations throughout the Commonwealth where so many people can enjoy being a part of it.”
The driving force behind this project is Support Portsmouth Public Art. They are an organization made up of wonderful people like Barbara Vincent. She and her peers–who I will fondly mention are elder statesmen with seemingly little to prove but lots of love to give–have been the humble instigators of numerous public art projects in P-town over the last few years.
“As a former leader of public art in Virginia in the 70’s and 80’s, Portsmouth seemed to be having a revival before the most recent Recession,” Vincent wrote in a recent piece for AltDaily. “With numerous art galleries, two juried art shows, a one of a kind museum with ever-changing and challenging exhibits, and the Tidewater Community College Visual Arts Center, a firm foundation for art was built.”
Up next they’re hoping to spearhead an official arts district in Portsmouth. For a city that has suffered such a rash of bad news, Support Portsmouth Public Art has literally been sprinkling the town with inspiration.
It’s how a city keeps hope alive. Sometimes LOVE is more than just a sculpture.
One of the artists, Orlen Stauffer, broke down their process:
“It all started when Irving Wolff, a master fabricator, urged me to respond to a Call for Artists from Support Portsmouth Public Arts in early November 2015 …three days before the deadline!!! It had been 25 years since we last worked together on creative design/build projects. He was always awesome at turning my visual ideas into reality. As I developed the design, the driving values were to make it appear strong, enduring, welcoming, and fun. I also wanted it to look great as a photo background – thus the simple color scheme, and its compact, image rich composition.
The first letter, “L” contains a playful representation the stars and stripes leading the eye in the direction of the waves toward the rest of the message. It’s a fun hat tip to the symbol of our nation, its enduring history, and the role our city played (and still plays) in that story
The ”O” began as a solid compass face with the four points extending beyond, giving it a floating
effect in relation to the others. In the midst of the design’s short evolution, I noted a nagging lack of life and punch. When I thought of “life” it hit me that the sun, known as the source of all life, would be great company for the waves rippling below. Then I added the hollow center opening just because that’s exactly what it needed as a porthole at just the right height for creative photo-op engagement. As a photographer myself, the sun offers a number of fun framing opportunities.
The anchor on the “V”, ready to drop into the blue waves, is of course a tribute to Portsmouth’s lifelong maritime history beginning with the original Gosport yard. It is evidenced at the site by the marina and Naval Hospital directly within view, as well as to the Naval Shipyard and the Marine Terminals less than two miles away in either direction.
I had to include fireworks on the “E” because this site is among the best in all of Southside Coastal Virginia to watch them go off with their dazzling reflections in Elizabeth River. This monument was built of materials that will stand the test of time and should remain as another key destination for Virginia travelers, a pretty cool spot to make a marriage proposal, and somewhere for families, friends, and groups to gather for some meaningful photo memories.”
The sculpture will be celebrated on the Portsmouth Seawall next to the marina on Crawford Parkway Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 10:00am.