“Virginia is for Lovers,” the iconic state slogan first introduced in 1969, still makes the rounds in the Old Dominion. So when the owners of Comstock Cos. in Northern Virginia reached out to Dylan Myers to make a LOVE sculpture for its Reston location, he jumped at the opportunity. After all, one can find love larger than life in all corners of the commonwealth. Subsequently, this includes everything from welcome centers and rest stops to downtown plazas and municipal buildings.
The owner of Dylan Myers Design in Baltimore, Maryland, had never created a sculpture before. However, he felt up for the task. “My initial idea for this project was to create an old, beat-up concrete wall that was forgotten,” Myers says. “Then, after years of decay, LOVE emerges from it.”
Which certainly seemed like the perfect title for his debut sculpture … aptly named “Then Love Emerges.”
Labor of love
Myers began sketching the initial design in October 2019 with the age-old “Golden Ratio” in mind. He started doodling on napkins and worked his way up to SketchUp Shop, a drawing app on the web. By December, he got the go-ahead to proceed and began casting the concrete letters in his shop in January 2020.
He designed his own GFRC mix and added recycled glass for depth and contrast. For his finish coat, he used a hybrid urethane sealer.
Each letter measures 6-feet tall and 4-feet-9¼-inches wide and weighs between 1,100 and 1,300 pounds. The individual bases measure 6-feet long, 33-inches wide and 18-inches tall. All totaled, LOVE sprawls 26-feet long. “And I think it weighs about 8,000 pounds,” Myers says.
“I engineered the base so each piece stands 4 inches off the ground,” Myers says. “If my client ever wants to move the pieces, they can lift the pieces with a forklift and put them somewhere else.”
To make LOVE look appear floating on air, Myers used 1¼-inch 18-8 stainless-steel all-threads to attach each letter to its base.
Love can be challenging
Overall, “The project’s biggest challenge was the weight considerations with floating 1,100- to 1,300-pound letters in the air off the all-threads,” he says. “Since it’s foam-core GFRC, I also had to take the internal structure into account. This was especially challenging once I realized the true scale and the fact that people would be crawling all over it for pictures.”
As for the base, he adds, “I had created that look with smaller pieces but never on this scale. I knew how to do it but I didn’t know how to do it all at the same time.”
Each piece of the base was board formed on two sides and rough-hewn on the others and the top. Additionally, he used a hatchet on the concrete so it would look like an old wall broken by sheer force.
For the letters’ transportation and installation, Myers used a forklift, a semi, a rigging truck and a crane. “There were probably 20 people involved with that part of the project,” Myers says.
The install went smoothly and instantly attracted attention. “Before we even finished cleaning up, a wedding party was all over it taking pictures.”
Which goes to show you that adage again rings true. Love waits for no one.