August 29, 2018
LOVE structure pops up on Warrenton’s Lee Street
Mike Kirkpatrick helped his wife Kathy create the sign of plywood and an old satellite dish.
Ms. Kirkpatrick visits a sign in Colonial Heights, south of Richmond.
Another in Urbanna on the Middle Peninsula.
I absolutely love it. It is a very happy addition to our neighborhood.
— Lori Gibson
She always has enjoyed visiting roadside oddities — from giant Muffler Men statues to colorful quilt squares painted on barns and LOVEwork signs.
After visiting more than 96 LOVEworks (as of Monday) — sculptures placed around Virginia as part of the state’s tourism corporation marketing — it seemed natural for Warrenton resident Kathy Kirkpatrick to create her own streetside attraction.
Three months ago, she decided to construct her own unofficial LOVE sign outside her house on East Lee Street.
“I had been tossing it around in my head for a few months,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “I figured I would just make my own.”
A proposal manager for a clinical research company, Ms. Kirkpatrick, 51, got laid off in June and had some extra time.
“Job hunting gets old,” she said. “It just fell into place. It was inexpensive entertainment.
“I didn’t want to spend any money. I had a spare piece of plywood, but it wasn’t enough to make all four letters.”
With help from her husband, Mike, she constructed the letters, “L,” “V” and “E” using leftover plywood pieces. Getting creative, she used a friend’s old DirecTV satellite dish for the “O.”
Two weeks ago she hung the 32-inch tall letters on the stone wall along East Lee Street near South Sixth Street.
“I absolutely love it. It is a very happy addition to our neighborhood,” neighbor Lori Gibson said. “I think it has already made people stop, slow down and appreciate the neighborhood. It’s definitely a happy thing, and hope it brings smiles to people’s faces as they walk by.”
Ms. Kirkpatrick hopes her sign also will help attract visitors to Old Town Warrenton.
“I’m big on supporting local merchants, but there’s only so much I can buy. So I figured I can do my part to help them,” she said. “This was doing my small part to bring people here.”
Visiting LOVEworks around Virginia has become a hobby for Ms. Kirkpatrick, who moved here from Maryland almost seven years ago.
Over the last three years, she has visited almost 100 LOVEworks — most of them featured on the state’s website.
LOVEworks stand throughout Virginia in small towns and large cities, recorded on the state’s website to encourage tourism. Other unofficial signs also have popped up.
“It’s just quirky fun. I’ve always liked that kind of stuff,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “It’s taken me to places where I’ve never been before and I’m going to go back.”
For example, she and her husband recently took a weekend trip to Farmville after she visited a LOVEwork there and noticed a brewery and a bicycle trail she wanted to explore.
“I went there specifically to see the LOVE sign and said, ‘I have to come back’.”
Sometimes she’ll visit the LOVEworks on her BMW F650 GS motorcycle.
“On a motorcycle, it’s less about getting from point A to point B, and these things are on back roads,” she said.
LOVEworks “really do draw people in. There are so many people who drive around the state like me.”
Ms. Kirkpatrick keeps track of the signs she’s visited on her blog and Instagram page.
“Sometimes I take a selfie with it or a goofy picture in front of it, but not at all of them,” she said.
Ms. Kirkpatrick plans on making a LOVE sign for her neighbor and possibly others. But, she has a new job and may not have as much time.
“We’re a little late with putting up a LOVE sign in Warrenton, but wouldn’t it be cool if Warrenton had the most LOVE signs?
“There’s so much negativity in this world, why not have fun? A bit of whimsy,” she said.
Ms. Kirkpatrick has already started planning a self-guided barn quilt trail in Fauquier and surrounding Piedmont counties, similar to one in Greene County.
Warrenton will unveil its second, official LOVEwork on Thursday, Sept. 13. Created by local artist Dorothy Smith, the structure will resemble a train and stand near the Warrenton Branch Greenway.
Airlie unveiled its sculpture, made of 98 percent recycled materials, on Earth Day in 2016.
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