Elkins – A pair of bronze cast dancers are now poised on Myles Plaza and a glass and steel cupola crowned with a silhouette of the sculpture stands high atop the rotunda entrance to Myles Center for the Arts on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Both pieces were installed this week as the $6.7 million renovation nears completion.
Board of Trustees Chair Emerita June Myles generously provided for the upgrades fulfilling a vision of creating an inviting gathering space for the College and greater community. The building was increased by approximately 6,000 square feet, nearly doubling the size of The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum, while the plaza features sections for conversations and a tiered seating area that can be used as an outdoor classroom.
“The sound of construction on campus is the first phase of the newly approved Campus Master Plan to transform the D&E campus,” said Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood. “June Myles’ vision and generosity has made this wonderful new addition possible. The impact upon both the campus community and the Elkins community from the elegant expansion of The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum and Myles Plaza will be significant and makes the Myles Center for the Arts the premier facility in this region of the state as D&E continues to ‘Lead the Way.’”
A small ceremony Wednesday celebrated the addition of finishing touches to the plaza. Before unveiling the 10-foot tall, 1,800-pound bronze sculpture, Myles told the story of its origins.
“It all began with monkeys,” she said, explaining that her friend and renowned sculptor James “Jimmy” Grashow created hundreds of cardboard sculpture monkeys. Admirers of his art, Myles among them, asked that the works be cast in bronze and thus began his venture into bronze statues. While visiting Grashow’s studio, Myles had yet another request.
“There were these dancers and I thought that could be really interesting for D&E,” Myles said.
The notion of adding the sculpture to the campus grew until Myles decided a building renovation and upgraded plaza would only be fitting to accommodate the work.
After Myles and Wood unveiled the sculpture, a crane hovered over the rotunda to place the cupola.
“I love that the rotunda ties together other parts of the campus,” Myles said. “Now, the weather vane on the cupola mirrors the dancers on the plaza.”
Myles also had her first opportunity to tour the inside of the building since renovations began in 2019.
“I’ve been a part of the planning, but I had no concept of the space,” Myles said. “The best word I can come up with is ‘amazing.’ I think it’s going to be a wonderful venue for many events. I’m delighted.”
The newly renovated Myles Center for the Arts is expected to officially open sometime in the spring.
Caption: Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood and Board of Trustees Chair Emerita June Myles unveil the new bronze statue on Myles Plaza.