After tallying 3,657 votes over 29 days, Frederick Shortridge is awarded first place in the fourth annual Akron Art Prize. This unique Downtown Akron arts experience, sponsored by The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, concluded on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Akron Art Museum. Shortridge received a $5,000 cash prize and the honor of having his winning artwork on display in the Akron Art Museum for one week following the finale.
Shortridge’s winning submission, entitled “Afro Historical Family Tree,” is a hand-carved walking cane, symbolic of a family tree from roots to a budding child. The cane features historical African Artifacts, African and Afro-American Firsts, Kings, Queens, Warriors, Liberators, Activists and Presidents spiraling from past, present to future.
Frederick Shortridge (A.K.A. Derby) is a self-taught artist with no prior training, schooling or degree. He simply goes deep within to manifest what the most high has bestowed in him to create. He’s explored numerous mediums throughout his 61 years, yet stick and cane carving is his most enduring endeavor, with five years to his credit. Trees and branches alike are quite inspiring to him, because like people, there are no two alike.
His cane carvings are all done by hand and he only takes what the wood gives him. He looks to educate, by conveying messages, moral codes and historical lessons on each stick. He sees his work as a commodity for the needy, and stylish for the hip. Wood carving is also quite therapeutic. After a branch has fallen or has been severed from a tree by someone else’s hand, he sees himself as giving that branch a new lease on life through the art.
Six artists each receiving $1,000, are first runner up Michael Marras for “A Salvageable Future,” 2nd runner up Brian Parsons for “It all ends where it begins,” 3rd runner up Tom Baldwin for “The Last Black Rhino Symbiosis,” 4th runner up J David Norton for “Evening Sunset” and a tie for 5th runner up between Bill Lynn for “Demise of a Legend” and April Couch for “Mandala Table.”
This year a new Artist’s Choice Award was given to the entry selected by the participating Akron Art Prize artists. The recipient of the $1,000 award was Couch for Mandala Table.
Art Prize began on Sept. 5 in conjunction with the Downtown Akron Artwalk. Nearly 200 artists participated, which was an increase from 160 artists in 2014. The artwork was displayed in six Downtown Akron venues: 43 Furnace Art Complex: Zeber-Martell Studio Side Gallery and ARTWALLS at 43 Furnace (43 Furnace St.), The Nightlight (30 N. High St.), Palladian Palette (106 N. Main St., 2nd fl.), Ro3 (115 E. Market St., #202) and Summit Artspace Gallery (140 E. Market St.).
The finale reception at the Akron Art Museum had an attendance of nearly 800 artists, gallery owners, voters and patrons.