May 31, 2018

Installation of Hopewell community gateway art begins

Artist Ralph Helmick’s Hopewell gateway art is being fabricated in Colorado and transported to Hopewell. Installation of the sculpture is planned for the first week of June. (Photo courtesy of The Cameron Foundation)

HOPEWELL, VA — Preparations are being made to receive artist Ralph Helmick’s iconic sculpture at the Route 10 bridge. The artwork, a monumental letter “H” made of open steel framework reminiscent of industrial scaffolding, is the centerpiece to a major community gateway project developed in partnership between the City of Hopewell and The Cameron Foundation. It will mark the entrance eastward into the City of Hopewell along Route 10. Although the Foundation is undertaking four gateway projects across the Tri-Cities, the Hopewell site is the only one with public art as its anchor. The sculpture will be installed during the week of June 4-8. Other work to the larger gateway project will continue on through the summer and is expected to be completed by this fall.

Hopewell City Manager John M. Altman, Jr. said, “The City of Hopewell offers so many great attractions, from restaurants to festivals to historic sites, and this is especially a good time as we move into the summer months. We expect that the addition of this striking piece of art at a major entranceway into our city will stimulate new interest in our city by visitors and bring out some of the civic pride that we enjoy in Hopewell.” The gateway site was chosen to augment other planned economic development in the area, including the opening of the Boathouse restaurant overlooking the Appomattox River, development of a river walk, and improvements at the adjacent marina. The art’s prominent location also is near an entrance to the Appomattox River Trail, where major work is being led by Friends of the Lower Appomattox River to link and enhance 23 miles of trails across six communities.

Artist Ralph Helmick’s Hopewell gateway art is being fabricated in Colorado and transported to Hopewell. Pictured here, lighting tests are conducted prior to shipment. Installation of the sculpture is planned for the first week of June. (Photo courtesy of The Cameron Foundation)

An artist selection committee of Hopewell and Cameron representatives chose international artist Helmick to create the artwork for this community gateway site. The sculpture is titled Return. Helmick explains, “This sculpture is inspired by the visual heritage of Hopewell, a heritage that includes both natural beauty – in an exceptional setting at the convergence of the Appomattox and James Rivers – and the beauty found in the city’s manmade structures, with its soaring industrial complexes as well as the surrounding infrastructure.”

The cost for the entire gateway project is $1.2 million. The full plan includes not only the artwork, but also extensive landscaping, lighting, and other site enhancements. The two partners, the city and the foundation, are splitting the projects costs equally. Cameron President J. Todd Graham explained that the Foundation’s main contribution was the funding and commissioning of the sculpture. “With each of our community gateway partnerships, the Cameron funding helps a local government to undertake a larger scale project than it would be able to do on its own, in turn, generating greater impact,” Graham said.

The gateway art rises above a 10,000 square-foot site at the east end of the Route 10 bridge crossing the Appomattox River. The sculpture itself is 51’ tall, approximately 20’ wide, and over 6’ deep. It is made of approximately 4,500 linear feet of stainless steel and has a brushed finish. The estimated weight is 14,000 lbs. With the addition of its base, the art stands 65’ high. Twelve floodlights will dramatically illuminate the sculpture at night. The grounds are being landscaped, and the median and edges of the surrounding roadway are being enhanced with terra cotta colored concrete. JunoWorks fabricated the sculpture at its facilities in Colorado and will install it next week. Chroma Design is the landscape architectural firm on the project.

Renderings of the Hopewell Community Gateway site illustrate the sculpture, extensive landscaping, decorative paving and other site improvements that are planned. (Images courtesy of Chroma Design)

During installation, traffic in the area may be temporarily impacted. Early Monday will see brief, rolling lane closures. Monday, Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday, Route 10’s westbound traffic will experience a left lane closure. The marina parking lot and riverside loop also will have intermittent traffic delays. City officials report that installation of the artwork is expected to happen quickly over two to three days. The extensive landscaping, lighting, decorative paving and other site improvements that comprise the remainder of the gateway project will be completed by early fall.


Hopewell is an independent, historic, riverfront city with a population of approximately 22,000. It is centrally located, only 21 miles south of Richmond and adjacent to Prince George and Charles City counties as well as Fort Lee military installation. Hopewell, formerly City Point, is the second oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. It also is known as the “Wonder City” because of its resiliency and tendency to bounce back. Today, Hopewell is enjoying another renaissance of economic growth and prosperity, with multiple new businesses and restaurants, renovation of existing properties and improved housing stock. The City is positioned to capitalize on this window of opportunity. To learn more of what the City of Hopewell has to offer, please visit

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