2018 Cleveland Arts Prizes announced

“The Great Escape?” by Darius Steward

The Cleveland Arts Prize has announced the winners of its 2018 awards. The 58th annual prizes recognize artists working in fields as diverse as architecture, literature, painting, and comics.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Rita Dove, a playwright, author, poet and lyricist based out of Akron. In 1993, Dove became the first Black Poet Laureate of the United States, and the youngest individual ever to hold that title at the time.

Darius Steward and Mark Reigelman were recognized with Emerging Artist Awards. Steward works in ink, drawing, and paint. His works have been exhibited at venues such as MOCA Cleveland, the Cleveland Clinic, and Tregoning & Co. He recently completed a pair of large murals with the support of the Inter-Urban Art Project and Midtown Cleveland. Reigelman is a designer who has completed commissions for public art and playgrounds in Cambridge, San Jose, Brooklyn, and San Diego. Some of his installations can be seen locally at Edgewater Park, the Cleveland Public Library, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Mid-Career Awards were given to John “Derf” Backderf and John Williams. Derf is a cartoonist and graphic novelist known for his strip The City, and book-length comics Trashed and My Friend Dahmer. Williams is a designer and architect whose firm, Process Creative Studios, has overseen renovation projects at sites such as Transformer Station, the Terminal Tower, and the Heinen’s in the former AmeriTrust building.

The Arts Prize grants special honors to figures whose long-term work has cultivated a vibrant environment for artistic development. In 2018, special awards were bestowed on William Griswold, PhD; Louise Boddie; Suzanne DeGaetano; and Robert P. Madison.

Griswold assumed directorship of the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2014, and has since overseen a capital campaign and strategic initiative to ensure the institution’s long-term health. He has also spearheaded efforts to return undocumented artifacts within the museum’s collection to their countries of origin. Boddie accepts an award on behalf of herself and her late husband Thomas. In 1959, the pair founded Boddie Recording Co., one of the first Black-owned studios to manufacture records in genres such as gospel, soul, and rock. For some three decades, DeGaetano has fostered education and community through reading as a co-owner of Mac’s Backs-Books in Conventry. Now in his ninth decade, Madison was the first African-American to earn an architecture degree in Ohio. Since then, he has distinguished himself as an urban designer, and his firm has trained at least 190 more Black architects and engineers. He has also served as a trustee at Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Arts Prize itself.

Five artists will receive the first Verge Fellowships awarded by the Arts Prize. The fellowship grants $2,000 stipends to newer artists pushing their disciplines in exciting new directions. The inaugural fellows are Stephen Bivens, Stephanie Fields, Amanda King, Damien McClendon, and Kayla Thomas.

Awardees will be honored Sunday, October 21 at a ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club of Cleveland, will host. Ticket prices run from $75 to $250, and can be purchased through the Arts Prize’s website starting September 1. For more information, call 440-523-9889 or go to clevelandartsprize.org.

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