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Finding Pan: The journey of the missing statue

A small bronze statue of a man hunched over playing the flute sits in a truck bed.
Breya Jones
/
LPM
For years, David Greer didn't think much of the statue he got from his dad. It wasn't until late last year he realized he had a decades-long missing statue in his possession.

Nearly six years ago, an LPM News listener reached out to us looking for a statue of the Greek god Pan she used to visit at the Belvedere during her lunches. And now, we might have an answer about where he went.

We must go back before we go forward.

In the 1970s, the Greek god Pan found a home in Louisville. The bronze statue stood a few feet tall. A boy, hunched over, playing a flute popped up at the Belvedere downtown. A mischievous air surrounded him.

According to the Metro Office of Arts + Creative Industries, the late artist Charlotte “Toddy” Price designed “Pan.” He was cast in 1972.

Later, the Younger Women’s Club of Louisville purchased the statue and gave it as a gift to the Riverfront Commission, a group tasked with overseeing the development of the waterfront. By the time the Belvedere was dedicated in 1973, Pan was sited with a pedestal, lighting and landscaping.

A little over a year later, Pan disappeared. City records indicate he was stolen. The statue was recast and replaced, but he vanished once more from the Belvedere in the late 1990s.

Records state that second version of the piping Pan was “lost or stolen during the renovation period.”

Into the wild unknown

In 2018, listener Donna Finnell reached out to LPM’s “Curious Louisville,” podcast asking what happened to Belvedere's Pan.

Former LPM reporter Ashlie Stevens couldn’t figure out what happened to him exactly but did discover that he had been recast a third time and sited at Kennedy Court Park in Crescent Hill.

Then, late last year, a man named David Greer reached out to LPM after finding Stevens’ story. He said he might have one of the long-lost Belvedere Pans.

A small bronze statue of a man hunched over playing the flute sits in a truck bed. On either side of the statue is a person.
Breya Jones
/
LPM
David and his sister Sheri Eckl said their mom wasn't Pan biggest fan.

Greer’s dad was a construction worker, finishing concrete at sites throughout the city. The Belvedere was one of them. One day, Greer said his dad brought Pan home.

“It was supposedly being tossed away at that time,” Greer explained. “They said they could have it, and he took it home, and it sat on their front porch.”

Greer and his sister Sheri Eckl said it stayed on their parents’ porch for years before their father passed the statue on to Greer.

“He always brought home all kinds of oddities that they dug up …,” Greer said. “When I [saw] it was just kind of interesting… just a little statue and off it went on the front porch and that was kind of it.”

Upon arrival, Pan wasn’t a hit with everyone.

“I just remember my mom didn't like it because she didn't want a naked boy on the porch,” Eckl said, laughing.

Greer kept Pan in front of his house for years. He eventually did a Google search which led him to LPM’s “Curious Louisville” story.

So how does a statue disappear for decades with very little information about what happened?

Retracing Pan’s steps

When Pan was placed, Louisville didn’t have a clear plan for the upkeep of public art.

“At that point, there was no public art administrator,” explained Jessica Kincaid, director of the Metro Office of Arts + Creative Industries. “I would hope that if there were they would have been coordinating a little bit more on the pieces that were installed on the Belvedere to help relocate and re-site those and store them safely.”

She said the city now views its public arts the way museums would view its collection. That comes with better records, coordination and upkeep.

Pan sat for years without getting the yearly maintenance other bronze pieces, like the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Waterfront, receive.

After years in front of Greer’s house, Pan has a few cracks on him and areas where weather has worn off some of his protective coating.

Even with the changes Pan endured over time, artist Charlotte Price’s daughter Liz Price said memories came flooding back after seeing an image of Greer’s Pan.

“It was kind of weird looking at that photograph, because I was like, well, there's Pan, you know, this is not a cast. Do you know what I mean? So that's just sort of a gut reaction,” Price said.

She said she had memories of sitting in her mother’s studio watching her cast the original statue.

Liz and her sister said they would love the opportunity to see Pan again, but ultimately hope their mother’s work can go back to a place where the public has access.

A small bronze statue of a man hunched over playing the flute sits in a truck.
Breya Jones
/
LPM
Pan was tucked safely into a box by city officials for assessment. What will be next on the God of Wild's journey has yet to be decided.

Kincaid, with the city, acquired the statue from Greer at the end of December. Next steps include an assessment by the city.

“I think that first of all, assessing any kind of [art] conservation needs that just to stabilize the object was necessary,” she said.

Kincaid said Pan might not go through a full repair because the wear and tear has become part of his story.

And whichever iteration he is, Pan has had quite the journey.

Where he’ll end up is unknown, but even in his time off the city’s radar he continued to provide whimsy to those who saw him.

For his part, Greer has always wanted one thing to come from this.

“Just as long as it goes to wherever it needs to be, to put it back out, for people to see it again,” Greer said.

Oh, and to Donna Finnell, if you’re reading this, I think we might finally know what happened to your lunchtime companion: the statue of a funky little dude and his flute.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.