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Fostering a Community of Artists at the Cambridge Art Association

The Cambridge Art Association's mission is to build a vibrant community through visual art. To that end, the association facilitates dialogue among local artists, art collectors, and art aficionados and has showcased numerous exhibits. Norma Jean Calderwood Director Erin Becker discusses the portfolio of programs at CAA as well as upcoming activities and events.

The programs at the CAA focus on the visual arts, with a special emphasis on creating a platform for budding and established artists in New England. Becker underscores how important fostering a sense of community is for the CAA, and how it works toward that goal through a robust exhibition program. There are more than twenty gallery exhibits per year, and many of them are set in unconventional spaces.

Pictured above is "Book Art" by Ronni Komarow

For many years, the Cambridge Art Association was a juried membership organization, but in late 2015, as part of a multiyear strategic plan, they opened up to all artists and art supporters in the area. Anyone can join the association and benefit from a supportive community and a rich educational environment. Simply put, the CAA strives to be a stepping stone for artists and launch them on their professional journeys.

This past July, Becker says, the CAA launched the Art Rental Program, enabling organizations as well as individuals to borrow authentic art works for up to a year at a time. The Rental Program offers an innovative way for people to interact with art, while not obligating them to make a permanent purchase. Among the CAA's customers are the Cambridge Health Alliance and Cambridge Innovation Center. Organizations are frequent clients of the program, and they enjoy the advantage of renting unique art works without having to commit to any particular one.

Contemplating Landscapes, a small group show featured at University Place Gallery, March 2016

The CAA is a special place for artists, serving as a networking hub and sanctuary for creative minds. "We also create a variety of opportunities for artists to network and support each other through events like our Feedback Forum as well as opportunities for artists to connect to galleries and museums," adds Becker.

Through events like their annual Portfolio Review Day (which is to be held on March 24th, 2017 at Lesley University's Lunder Arts Center) the CAA gives artists the coveted opportunity to showcase their work directly to museums and galleries in the area.

Discussing some of their recent exhibitions, Becker mentions their New England Open Show called RED which opened on November 8th and will run until December 21st. Joseph D. Ketner from Emerson College selected seventy-seven artists from over three hundred applicants and over nine hundred art pieces. The RED exhibit will be open to the public through the holidays.

Jeannie Motherwell with one of her paintings, in the 2016 National Prize Show

"In addition to RED, our first online exhibit Flux: Picturing Change will be on view through December 10th," says Becker. Flux: Picturing Change was judged by Liz Devlin, an independent curator and the founder of, an independent resource for artists and art enthusiasts which also offers consulting and curation. Becker points out that the public can also view work by CAA artists in the Atrium at 50 Church Street and at Darwin's on Cambridge Street.

Above all, Becker stresses, the CAA is a community of artists and art supporters, who have bonded together to form a powerful and inspiring network in the city.

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