Shepherd chosen to create Buchy sculpture


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The Daily Advocate/The Early Bird recently announced that former State Representative Jim Buchy, a living legend in West Central Ohio, will be forever memorialized in bronze at the site of his family’s former packing house near Garst Museum. The site is currently owned by the Darke County Parks and features the Tecumseh Trail bike and walking path.

The man tasked with caputurning Buchy’s likeness is not a stranger to the community. In fact, his work can already be seen at Greenville City Park and Shawnee Prairie. Joshua Shepherd was commissioned to create the statues of Little Turtle and Tecumseh. He recently accepted the commission to create the Buchy Bench along the Buchy Mile on the trail.

What does Shepherd look for when he’s sculpting? Getting the likeness of the individual is important, but the sculptor said capturing the subject’s personality is just as important. Although most of the likenesses he has captured over the years are no longer around, he was able to get a good understanding of Buchy’s personality as he was taking photographs and getting measurements. “I’ve met Mr. Buchy on a couple of occasions, and he’s always struck me as warm, engaging and intelligent. But he also has a whimsical sense of humor that doesn’t stay hidden very long. Capturing that personality in bronze is what I’m looking forward to. He’s what they referred to in the old days as a ‘consummate gentleman.’”

Shepherd lives in rural Randolph County, Ind. with his wife, Lora, and five children. He said he fell backward into the sculpting profession after he graduated from high school. “It was entirely providential,” he said. “I started sculpting simply as a hobby after high school and thankfully fell backwards into full time work.” He has been a full-time sculptor since 2000. Even more amazing is that Shepherd has no formal training in art. “It was a hobby that took off into a career,” he added.

While he has several pieces in Darke and Randolph counties, Shepherd’s artwork can be found across the country. He has sculptures of veterans from the Civil War to Iraq, including a female veteran’s memorial, as well as a firefighter sculpture. His works can be found in Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginian, Illinois, South Dakota and Louisianna. Some of his most unique sculptures can be found in Dunedin, Fla., but you can’t get to them by car. The Circle of Heroes sculptures of veterans are located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Dunedin. Shepherd agreed the Dunedin installation was interesting and there’s a possibility he could be creating additional sculptures for that exhibit. “The folks in Florida are actually discussing expanding the Circle of Heroes, so it’s within the realm of possibilities that I’ll get to do more work that will be going underwater.”

Shepherd won’t pick a favorite sculpture but did say the Tecumseh statue at Shawnee Prairie was the most fulfilling. He said, “A lot of unheralded folks from the Darke County Center for the Arts and the Darke County Parks made all of that possible.” He listed several names that were instrumental in getting it done, including Darryl Mehaffie, Andrea Jordan, Roger Van Frank, Tim Wells and Michael Colamarino. “I honestly played just a small part in that project but was very happy to do so,” he said. “I’ve always loved local frontier history and have read about Tecumseh since I was a kid. Sculpting the statue was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

How long will it take for Shepherd to complete a project? He pointed out that depending on the complexity of the piece it takes anywhere from a few weeks to nearly two months.

Sculpting has been a blessing for Shepherd, “God has been very gracious to us, and we’re extremely blessed to be able to provide for the family from sculpture. I work from an old shop building here at home, so I’m able to be with family almost every day.”

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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