Return is inspired by the visual heritage of Hopewell, Virginia, a heritage that includes both natural beauty [an exceptional setting at the convergence of the Appomattox and James Rivers] and the beauty found in manmade structures [epic industrial buildings shrouded in scaffolding, catwalks and other utilitarian infrastructure].
A 51-foot-tall letter “H” marks the City’s northern boundary. Articulated in an open stainless-steel framework, the form tapers toward the south, its hundreds of components converging in the direction of downtown Hopewell.
A “gateway” sculpture, Return acknowledges that most people will experience the piece from moving vehicles travelling to and from downtown Hopewell. From either direction the artwork is visible from a distance of several hundred yards, optically shifting in ways akin to moiré patterns. The result is a “kinetic” sculpture where the viewer—not the artwork—is moving.
The fabrication of the artwork employed over a mile of 2”-diameter stainless steel pipe weighing 9 tons.
51’ high on 15’ base 20’ 5” wide 6’ 7” deep
artist: Ralph Helmick
site: West Randolph Road Gateway, Hopewell, VA
media: welded stainless steel
fabrication: JunoWorks, Commerce City, CO
art consultant/curator: Jean Greer, Chapel Hill, NC
landscape architecture: Chroma Design, Boulder, CO
commissioned by The Cameron Foundation, Petersburg, VA