Sculpture by Brundidge artist Larry Godwin back home in Pike County after 52 years

Published 7:46 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Keith Roling, the uncontested mayor of Orion, never batted an eye. It was no gift horse that was being offered. It was a crown jewel.

Roling realized that he was accepting a gift that would require ingenuity and “cents.”

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The opportunity to own a sculpture by highly acclaimed Brundidge artist Larry Godwin was one that Roling could not turn down.

“I thought it was important to have Larry Godwin’s sculpture in his home county,” Roling said. “It had been offered previously to several locations in Pike County. I was fortune to have the opportunity to get an original sculpture by Larry Godwin, who is now in a healthcare facility in southwest Alabama. I thank the family of Ann and Dewey Hardin for this Pike County treasure.”

The “treasure” came to Orion via the Hardin family of Chipley, Florida.

Donna Hogan of Brundidge and a niece of the couple, said the Hardins were the last owners of the sculpture.

“Larry’s light sculpture was created for the opening of the Montgomery Mall in 1970 and was there until the mid-80s. Then, it was displayed at the mall in Dothan,” Hogan said. “When the Dothan mall was being renovated, Ann and Dewey Hardin had the opportunity to purchase Larry’s sculpture and it was moved to their home in Chipley.”

Ann Hardin was Ann Helms of Brundidge. She was the daughter of Hobby Helms and the sister of Dorothy Helms Laney.

Hogan realized the artistic importance of Larry Godwin’s sculpture and its connection to Brundidge and wanted it to come “home” to Brundidge and Pike County.

“Larry is the son of the late Robert and Mattie Lee Godwin,” she said. “Mr. Godwin owned and operated Bob’s Feeds in Brundidge for many years. He was a highly-regarded member of the business community. He and “Miss” Mattie Lee were active and highly respected members of the Brundidge community for many years.”

The Godwins had four children and all are talented professional artists, Larry and Ronald as artists and metal sculptors, Michael in landscaping and Carol in music.

Roling was aware of Hogan’s interest in finding a home for the metal sculpture.

He was also familiar with Godwin’s studio, Art Wurks, on Highway 231 south of Brundidge.

“I knew that Larry Godwin had sculpted several replicas of the Wright Brothers flyer, two in Dayton, Ohio,” Roling said.  “Several generations of motorists have ‘hit the brakes’ to see the giant metal rooster made from automobile bumpers at his studio on U.S. Highway 231 South.”

Roling decided “to do whatever it takes” to give Larry Godwin’s sculpture a home in Pike County.

Moving the heavy sculpture from its resting place in the lowlands of Chipley, Florida, to the rolling hills of northeastern Pike County was rather costly and labor-intensive task.

Once a resting place was found for the sculpture, Roling was challenged with putting it back into working order.

The sculpture was originally lighted, Roling said. “It was a light fountain.”

Getting all the wires untangled and the lights back in place and working was rather “tricky.” However, once that was done, the sculpture came to life once again. And, it was time to welcome the sculpture home again.

On Sunday, April 2, 2023, the Larry Godwin sculpture was dedicated with the family of Ann and Dewey Hardin in attendance along with a gathering of people in and around the area.

“I’m happy to have a sculpture by a noted Pike County artist here in downtown Orion to light the way to the cultural center of the southeast,” Roling said, with a smile. “Orion was founded about 1815, and was the center of wealth, aristocracy and learning in Pike County as penned by Margaret Pace Farmer’s ‘History of Pike County, 1971.’”

Roling said the sculpture now lights the way for locals and Lockheed and Rex Lumber employees and trucks rolling through downtown.

Orion is Pike County proud and “it shows!”