Allied Arts Association celebrates 70 years of art

Allied Arts is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. To celebrate, Allied Arts members will be hosting a party this month at the Gallery at the Park in Richland, and everyone — including nonmembers — can attend.

Allied Arts got its start in the 1940s when Thelma Pearson, an art teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, brought together a small group of artists to hold workshops, paint and organize displays of their work. In 1948, the artists wrote up a constitution and officially founded the Allied Arts Association.

During the years that followed, members of Allied Arts participated in seminars, art classes, field trips and other activities in the community. In 1950, they held the first Sidewalk Show at the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. Artists hung paintings on clotheslines, and some members also displayed crafts and three-dimensional artworks on card tables. The show — now called Art in the Park — has become an annual tradition and is a major community event in Howard Amon Park.

Allied Arts Association has also spread art awareness and engaged with the community through its affiliations with other arts organizations. When Allied Arts partnered with the Washington Arts Association in 1950, the groups were able to bring exhibits and lectures from prominent Washington artists to Richland.

Governor’s Award

In 1975, Allied Arts received the Washington State Governor’s Award for outstanding, sustained volunteer effort in promoting the visual arts in the community. With the award came a commemorative gift — a raku vessel by Seattle potter Jean Griffith. Both the award certificate and the raku vessel are displayed in the building.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that members were able to keep the building and its activities running and earn this award without receiving grant money, but with dedicated volunteers and commissions from gallery and Sidewalk Show sales.

In 1997 and 1998, Allied Arts Association celebrated its 50th anniversary with an exhibit by renowned glass-blowing artist Dale Chihuly. A group of volunteers at the time decided the gallery needed some fixing up, so Rosemary Merckx and Marian Hart painted a southwestern theme for the women’s restroom and Lisa Day designed whimsical walls for the men’s room. Both restrooms have since been remodeled.

Gallery’s history

In 1999, Lisa Day’s mosaic class elected to cover the retaining walls at the front and west side of the gallery with tile. Day designed a fanciful fish pattern, and during the summer of 2000, a large crew of volunteers got together to break the tile, cut each piece, fasten it on and add grout.

Many of those volunteers later became valuable Allied Arts Association members. To this day, if you stop by the gallery, you can see a tile with volunteer names above the steps from the patio to the lower entrance.

Doubtless, anyone who attends the 70th anniversary dinner should take some time to view the history of the building. These additions throughout the years show what people can do when they work together toward a common goal. With every new project they undertake, Allied Arts Association volunteers demonstrate the power of teamwork.

The celebration

The dinner, “Celebrating 70 Years of Art,” will take place on Oct. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Gallery at the Park, at 89 Lee Boulevard in Richland. If you would like to attend and see some of the history for yourself, you can purchase tickets at the gallery or on the website for $10.

Each ticket will include food, wine, door prizes and live musical entertainment.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

For information and tickets to the Oct 12 dinner, visit the gallery online at

View the archived October 2018 issue of The Entertainer