Schultz enjoys ‘losing himself’ in his carving

Schultz enjoys ‘losing himself’ in his carving
Dave Mast

A physician and an artist, Dr. Bill Schultz has gone from working on bodies to working on clay, wood and stone. Recently, the artistic side has taken over, and Schultz, here at work with his ever-present cat, Rocket, settles into his chair in his workshop.


“I didn’t want medicine to be my only legacy.”

Those were the words of Dr. Bill Schultz as he sat in his home discussing what drew him to the world of carving.

With a master’s degree in anatomy and a longtime job as a doctor at Sugarcreek Family Practice, Schultz has always been gifted at working on the human body.

While he doesn’t have an art degree, some of what he knows intimately of the human anatomy has helped him carve out a niche in the art world as a carver, something that has become a passion over the past several years.

Recently, Schultz’s son Ryan, president of the Sugarcreek Arts Council, had the honor of introducing the SAC’s annual Friend of the Arts recipient, an honor which he bestowed upon his father.

Each year the SAC presents the Friend of the Arts award to celebrate an individual who has used his or her artistic abilities to impact the community in a positive way. While oftentimes this recipient is an artist, many years have seen an individual known by most as someone other than an artist honored.

Bill Schultz has added to both of those talents in his own unique way.

The elder Schultz’s passion for carving began with a simple trip to Canada, where he connected with several sculptors and began a friendship with one who has helped him develop his carving skills and supplies him with fine Canadian black chlorite, an onyx-colored carving stone the Eskimos use.

In addition, many of his patients who recognize his passion for carving have brought him stones to use.

“With his master’s in anatomy, he found it quite natural to recreate a face into a walking stick, which not long after was given as a gift to a local,” Ryan Schultz said of his father.

After that, carving began to grow into a passion for Schultz, prompting him to set up a makeshift studio in the garage. This led to workshop classes with the late Don Jimison, another local carver and recipient of the Friend of the Arts award.

After beginning in wood, clay work soon followed. With the added mess clay creates and need for space, Schultz hired the Garaway High School industrial arts class to build an art studio in his back yard, led by Tim Immel.

Meanwhile, his medical life had taken him to Newcomerstown, where he practiced for another five years.

“This is a form of relaxation for me,” Schultz said. “It’s fascinating watching an inanimate piece of wood or stone turn into something unique and special. Once I get going, it is easy for me to lose track of time, and it’s a great way to diet because I forget to eat when I’m focused on carving. The great thing about it is you have this vision, and inevitably it isn’t going to end up exactly how you envisioned it in your mind. Sometimes the finished product ends up so much better.”

After several years at the health department, he was able to retire and put more focus on the arts. His pieces eventually found their way into many local art shows, winning Schultz several awards.

His new passion also landed him some educational gigs, like in 2018 when he taught sculpting for a semester at Muskingum University alongside Yun Son.

With busts of Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and other scholars peering over his shoulder as he works in his workshop, Schultz finds it easy to get lost in the joy of his work. He laughed when thinking back to his first bust sculpture, that of Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine.

“I finished up, and oddly enough, it came out looking just like me,” he said.

While sculpting has consumed a major spot in the heart of the newest Friend of the Arts recipient, his son said he does find other ways to keep his life full and enriched.

“If you are looking for him today, you wouldn’t be far off looking to the bike trail,” Ryan Schultz said, “most likely from Millersburg to Killbuck.”

As his hobby becomes his new job, Schultz continues to create carvings, currently setting his sights on carving large sets of chess pieces out of stone for his sons.

For someone who once spent countless hours learning about how to operate on humans, Schultz has parlayed some of those skills into working on material other than flesh and bone, and much like his work as a physician, attention to detail means everything when it comes to carving.

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