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Beach Work Of Art

Store owner's gem of a rough idea has turned into a beach work of art – sculpture simulates the way diamonds are found in nature

Published: December 5, 1999
Section: VIRGINIA BEACH BEACON, page 18
Source: LAINE RUTHERFORD, Correspondent
© 1999- Landmark Communications Inc.

The large gray monolith that seemed to suddenly appear in the parking lot of David Nygaard Fine Jewelers on Laskin Road has left motorists stumped for over a month.

It is a work in progress; a sculpture designed to simulate the way diamonds are found in nature, explains David Nygaard, owner of the newly relocated store. Soon, it will emerge like a diamond in the rough, he says, with water, and the appearance of glittering gems lighting up the heavily traveled corridor to the Oceanfront. When Nygaard moved his established jewelry store from the Hilltop Shopping Center to a vacant credit union building across Laskin Road in September, he wanted the store's new location to have something in front that would create a landmark in Virginia Beach.

"A sculpture is something that has been jelling in my head for years," said Nygaard, a longtime supporter of art in Hampton Roads. "With the Laskin Road Beautification Project, we feel we are contributing a beautiful piece of art, not just a gimmick."

While he could visualize and describe what he wanted to arise from the paved lot in front of his store, Nygaard initially had a difficult time finding someone who could fulfill his vision. That is, until his baby sitter told him about local landscaper and sculptor, Scott Dilatush.

During his first meeting with Dilatush, Nygaard had the artist draw a conceptual sketch of the sculpture. Like others before him, Dilatush's rendering did not capture Nygaard's imagined sculpture. It was only when Dilatush took clay and shaped a scaled down model of the piece did the collaboration between the two men begin. Nygaard said at that point he knew he had his artist.

"I was going to try to make it myself, but Scott added ideas. Where I knew what I wanted, he filled in the blanks," said Nygaard.

For the past three months, Dilatush has devoted most of his waking hours to constructing, transporting, assembling and finishing the sculpture. "I have lived it and breathed it," he said. "I didn't do anything else. I didn't want to stop."

Dilatush, whose landscaping work can be seen throughout the Oceanfront and Sandbridge areas, is best known artistically for the sea serpent sculpture he built using driftwood and shells on the front lawn of a Sandbridge home. Branching out from the landscaping business into sculpture was something Dilatush savored.

"As an exotic gardener, I get to combine my artistic talent with my gardening skills," said Dilatush, who grew up helping out his parents in their landscape nursery business in New Jersey. "Now I am experiencing a metamorphosis of going from gardening to sculpture."

With the help of a welder friend in Chesapeake, Dilatush made a 20-foot skeleton out of heavy metal bars, creating two spines, and numerous metal ribs that took on the same shape as the clay model he had shown Nygaard. Dilatush then had the welded pieces towed to his home in Back Bay, where he assembled them temporarily. When he was sure all of the pieces would fit together correctly, a large crane placed the skeleton on a flatbed truck and it was transported to Nygaard's store. The same crane then placed the 1,000-pound sculpture on top of salt treated pilings, where it was permanently bolted together.

Dilatush applied a light concrete coating to the metal, then added texture and color with paint, even adding mineral flakes to give the appearance of rock. Small glass pieces were attached to the sides to simulate the way diamonds are found in nature, and finally, Dilatush landscaped the area surrounding the sculpture.

For Nygaard, the sculpture is an important element in creating an environment where people will enjoy spending their time. "I wanted the store to be dreamlike, less formal," said Nygaard. To achieve that goal he hosts high tea on Friday afternoons and a jazz trio that entertains customers each weekend.

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754 First Colonial Road,

Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Phone. 757-965-3337

Email. david@davidnygaard.com

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