Allied Arts still bringing culture to the Mid-Columbia after 72 years
The Allied Arts Association in Richland was started by a group of women whose husbands worked for the Manhattan Project at Hanford in 1943.
Most women didn’t work back then, so to keep busy they decided to bring some culture to the isolated Tri-Cities’ area by organizing the first Allied Arts group, said Bob Allen, Allied Arts’ president.
The association is perhaps best known for its annual Sidewalk Show, which takes place each summer during Water Follies.
The first sidewalk show featured the work of just eight artists and was called a ‘Clothesline Show’ because paintings were strung on clotheslines along the Parkway, Allen said. As the show gained popularity and grew, drawing larger audiences and more artists, it moved locations several times, finally landing at Howard Amon Park where it continues today.
The Allied Arts building at 89 Lee Blvd. in Richland also has a distinctive history and undergone all sorts of changes since being constructed in 1909 as a boarding house. It was a hotel and then became the private residence for an editor with The Richland Advocate, the city of Richland’s first newspaper, Allen said.
Later it was used as an office for the Richland Irrigation District, was home to The Villager newspaper, and also served as the Richland Library for a time.
Allied Arts took up residence in 1965 and has made many changes.
“The gallery has featured many artists over the years, both locally and nationally known artists,” Allen said. That includes world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
“But we do much more than offer the Tri-Cities a wide range of (eclectic) art exhibitions,” Allen said. “We hold art classes, workshops and outdoor sketching events. We also offer human figure drawing sessions the second Saturday of each month at a cost of $10.” The gallery also offers summer art classes for kids.
In 1975, Allied Arts Association received the Washington State Governor’s Award, recognizing the organization for its vibrant volunteerism for promoting community visual arts.
Allen said the recognition was significant because no grant money had been used for association’s programs or remodeling projects, which were solely funded through proceeds from the gallery’s gift shop and Sidewalk Show sales.
The gallery underwent a $100,000 remodel earlier this year, which included a new state-of-the-art lighting system for the gallery and a revamping of the gift shop area, as well as, other renovations, Allen said.
“Our Christmas Market is coming up Dec. 4-5 and that has become a very popular event for us that we’re looking forward to,” he said.
More information about the gallery can be found at www.alliedartsrichland.org or call 943-9815.
The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free.