By Stephanie Malench
On May 25, 1938, over 4,000 residents attended the dedication of the C. H. Dorris Memorial Fountain in front of the three-year old Collinsville Memorial Library to honor Collinsville Unit 10 Superintendent Charles H. Dorris for the past 34 years of service. The fountain and sculpture within were paid for with donations (“Pennies for Pan”) from school children and adults in Collinsville.
In the center of the fountain sat a sculpture of the mythical creature Pan, a character from Greek mythology who was the god of woods and fields, flocks of shepherds, fishermen and hunters. The figure of Pan was selected due to its resemblance to a child (school children collected the money) and Greek mythology is a staple of the book world (appropriate for the grounds of a library).
English poets John Milton, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Percy Shelley among others included the Greek legend in their works.
Pan was sculpted from terra cotta by Denamrk native Carl C. Mose, best known for sculpting the Stan Musial statue at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and an instructor of sculpture at Washington University in St. Louis.
After about 75 years, Pan was in need of renovations. The Collinsville Library Foundation, a non-profit separate from the library, held another “pennies for Pan” under the leadership of Collinsville funeral home proprietor Robert Herr and Dorris’ grand-daughter Mary Sue Schusky to save the fountain and sculpture and collected over $70,000 from community members that did not want to see the fountain and statue replaced by a a garden.
Unfortunately, the renovations didn’t last, and three years ago, Pan started falling apart. His head broke off his body and his tail fell off.
Mark Schusky, president of the Mississippi Valley Library Board and great-grandson of Charles H. Dorris, researched and found Mitch Horstmann and the St. Louis Sculpture Factory in 2019 to renovate Pan one last time to be displayed inside the library and to create a new bronze Pan that could withstand the elements outside better than the terra cotta Pan, paid for by private donations as had the original Pan and the first renovation.
Pan was returned to the library during the summer of 2020 and waited until a display case could be made to keep him safe in the library. He was recently put back on display in April across from the circulation desk.
After a long process and the St. Louis Sculpture Factory going out of business, another local artist by the name of Victor Panchot and The Bleu Monkey Studio ran across the mold when helping Horstmann clean out his studio. Panchot contacted Schusky and said he had found the molds and offered to return them to Schusky. Schusky at that time reached out to Panchot asking him if he was available to finish the project.
Schusky was shocked, not thinking the mold had ever been made, and asked Panchot if he knew anyone who could make the bronze Pan. Panchot said yes, and assumed the role of facilitator in completing the project.
The next step in the new Pan’s birth was the “mother mold” that Horstmann made from the original statue’s trip to Santa Fe, NM, the number three art market in the United States behind New York and Los Angeles.
The mold was then converted into 15 separate wax molds by Paul Lewis Designs in Santa Fe and sent to Loveland, CO where the 180-pound bronze statue was cast. The bronze parts were then returned to Paul Lewis in Santa Fe to be assembled and the patina applied. Panchot then drove to Santa Fe on April 16 to pick Pan up and install him in the fountain in front of the library on May 1.
Panchot said “I’ve never been involved in an installation before where people are stopping to express their excitement as they were that Pan was back”.
Panchot has been casting iron, bronze, aluminum, and concrete sculptures since 2006 with Bleu Monkey.