When it seems that environmental protections are increasingly scaled back, even as we speed towards the point of no return, it is not unusual for so many artists to focus on the beautiful and wild things of this world, or to meditate on nostalgia for the past and their anxiety for the future. In the Cambridge Art Association’s annual Members Prize Show, many have done just that. This year’s show is larger than ever, with works by almost 60 artists in almost every conceivable media, and is split between two venues, the University Place Gallery and the Kathryn Shultz Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Walking through both spaces, one is struck by the proliferation of trees and other plant life in the paintings, photographs and prints on view. A carpet of bright red, yellow and pink leaves surround moss-covered roots in Erik Gehring’s photograph, “Red Maple #2.” Jane Sherrill’s “Locust, Truro” seems to be growing up the wall. Branches brush the dark green surface of a pond in Frances Schreiber’s watercolor, “Dark Mirror,” while limbs weave in and out of leaves in Guy Washburn’s infrared photograph, “Provincetown, MA 2019.” Margaret Sheldon’s “An Introduction” and Jim Banks’ “Window’s Foot,” both oil paintings, draw us into a mesmerizing tangles of leaves, buds, blossoms and twigs. Others have focused on individual ferns, fronds of seaweed and flowers, both realistic and abstracted.