Artist Fred Shaw’s creations inspire awe

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 2004

When military men look at Fred Short’s artistic creation, they’re often impressed by the quality of his sculptures, the realistic nature of his drawings and paintings, and even the humor of his cartoons.

But when they see Short’s military emblem designs, the ones that have won him a pair of Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals for being, the certificate declares, &uot;awesome emblems that became the center point of the realignment/change of command services,&uot; they see much more than the physical piece that hangs on a wall.

&uot;These emblems make them feel like they’re a part of the navy, the marines, or whatever else,&uot; Short’s former unit commander once told him. &uot;It’s their identity. When they walk in and see it, it’s who they are and who their unit is. It makes them proud to have their identity.&uot;

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Indeed, Short’s work isn’t just pleasing to the eyes. It touches their mind, their heart, their soul, and their pride. It lets them know how important they are, and how much they’re appreciated. They get a sense of the teamwork and the camaraderie that’s shared by one of the most necessary teams in the entire world – one that protects American freedoms.

It’s that same amity that brought Short back to the military in 2001 after an 18-year layoff. &uot;You can get out of the military, but a part of the military always lives in you,&uot; he said in his White Marsh home, surrounded by a small sample of the sculptures and paintings that he’s put together over the past three decades. &uot;It’s good to be back around the folks I know.&uot;

After eight years in the Marine Corps, the Florida native left the ranks in 1983 and started Short Design, a commercial design company that did a multitude of products for companies like Costcutters and Regis Corporation, a hair care production company. During the 1996 Olympics, Chevrolet hired him to create life-size designs of hurdler Edwin Moses and diver Greg Louganis, which were seen by thousands of spectators in Atlanta. He also created several artistic works for Budweiser.

Then, in April 2001, he headed to the naval reserves to work in air cargo. For the past three years, he and the rest of his unit have loaded and unloaded naval aircraft in Guam, Greece, Bahrain, and Sicily, just to name a few.

On Monday, he’ll start another journey; Short will begin preparations to head to Iraq in late August. &uot;I’m not sure how long I’ll be there,&uot; he said. &uot;Probably at least seven months.&uot;

He’s got a special reason to want to come home; Short will submit his artistic portfolio to Quantico (where he spent three years as a section chief in the artistic department, aiding in the creation of training aids, posters, and audio-visual creations), hoping to become a combat artist, one who creates artistic drawings and paintings of actual action.

&uot;Combat art documents everything the military does,&uot; he said. &uot;It can be appreciated by all people, and it has a real historical perspective. It doesn’t glorify war; it documents it. There are things in a sketch or painting that people may not notice in a full photo.&uot;