Visitors encouraged to take pictures and share on social media with #LOVEVA and #SWVA.
The Friends of Southwest Virginia unveiled a life-sized LOVE artwork today alongside brand new SWVA letters, now on display at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway in Abingdon, VA. As a 29,000-square-foot destination center representing all 19 counties and four cities in Southwest Virginia, this cultural and heritage center introduces a different side of Virginia to residents and visitors alike.
Created as part of a state and local partnership to promote travel and tourism, the artwork is an extension of the 48-year-old “Virginia is for Lovers” brand, and one of more than 65 giant LOVE letter artworks, called LOVEworks, in towns and cities across the Commonwealth.
“Virginia is for Lovers is about doing the things you love to do on vacation with the people you love most,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “The new LOVEwork in Southwest Virginia at Heartwood captures that idea perfectly, and gives you an authentic sense of place as it showcases a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. We are excited that Heartwood will help us share the LOVE with travelers, helping them to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Lovers.”
Each LOVE installation is a reflection of the community in which it stands, and the Southwest Virginia LOVEwork on display at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway is no exception.
Friends of Southwest Virginia prides itself on helping localities, businesses, individuals, artists, nonprofits and entrepreneurs mobilize and succeed. The design and installation were done by a local Southwest Virginia small business, Appalachian Reclaimed. Constructed and sourced by local materials, this sculpture spreads the LOVE and introduces residents and visitors to Southwest Virginia. Owner of Appalachian Reclaimed, Bristol native and ‘Round the Mountain artisan, Hunter Dannhardt refurbishes and creates works-of-art. Appalachian Reclaimed created the LOVE artwork in front of the Southwest Virginia destination center, as well as the enhancements to newly opened Southwest Virginia Mountain Brew Bar, located inside of Heartwood in Abingdon, VA.
The Mountain Brew Bar, serving local brews (coffee, wine and beer), stemmed from the launch of the Southwest Virginia Mountain Brew Trail in August of 2017. The trail showcases the 24+ breweries throughout the 19 county and four city region. You can expect a vibrant atmosphere, local food and music throughout the week at the Mountain Brew Bar. Stop in on Saturdays for specials and a showcase of Southwest Virginia’s brew scene.
“The December 7th ribbon cuttings, in partnership with Virginia Tourism, further emphasize the importance of Heartwood as a destination center for Southwest Virginia and to aid in the exploration of each community within Southwest Virginia,” said Chris Cannon, Executive Director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Friends of Southwest Virginia. “Heartwood has served as a regional economic development opportunity since its opening in 2010. We are enthusiastic for residents and visitors to come experience the changes at Heartwood and take their photo with a piece of Southwest Virginia in our newly installed LOVE artwork.”
Visitors to Heartwood and Southwest Virginia mean business – tourism impact through jobs and new tax revenues in rural Virginia. Southwest Virginia is a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources, time spent in Southwest Virginia adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2016, tourism generated $24 billion in revenue, supported 230,000 jobs and provided $1.7 billion in state and local taxes for the Commonwealth.
Visitors to the Southwest Virginia LOVEwork are encouraged to take pictures with it and share them on Facebook at Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers and on Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #LOVEVA and #SWVA. A full list of LOVEworks can be found at Virginia.org/LOVE.