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Art to heart

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 30, 2017 2:00 AM

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Chef Louis (Justin Rowland) adds a flourish to his song ‘Les Poissons’ during the Columbia Basin Allied Arts soiree Friday.

MOSES LAKE — The arts and their importance – not just to individuals, but to society – was the message at the annual Columbia Basin Allied Arts fundraising soiree Friday evening.

“Under the Sea” was the theme, and the audience was treated to an spirited rendition of the song by performers from Masquers Theater, which presented “The Little Mermaid” in December. Masquers performers walked around among the tables to encourage the audience to get up and dance along.

The soiree is the CBAA’s biggest fundraiser of the year; final tallies won’t be available until later this week.

Art stimulates the imagination, but it also provides comfort in times of trouble, said CBAA director Ciara Shuttleworth. While doing some research for a project, she said, she discovered visits to museums increased all around the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. So did internet searches for poetry, she said.

“The arts are what we go to when we are seeking solace and answers,” she said.

Allied arts sponsors a series of concerts and performances for adults and children, and that too is part of the mission of the arts, Shuttleworth said. The artists the CBAA brings to town are “something I want to share with the community,” said Jordan Shipley, the organization’s treasurer. As a writer and painter, art is “a peace of mind, and something you can escape to,” Shipley said.

“Enriching the community,” Shuttleworth said. The opportunity to see and hear live performance – of plays, of dance, of music – shouldn’t be limited to big cities, she said.

Painter Erika Nicole, Moses Lake, was the featured artist. She worked in the aviation industry while pursuing studies in art, and now paints full time.

What does art do for her? “What doesn’t it do for me?” she said. Painting and creating engage her brain in a unique way. “It’s like problem-solving, but in the most enjoyable way.”

The Masquers troupe sang two songs from “The Little Mermaid,” led by Justin Rowland in full regalia as Chef Louis. He led the chorus in “Les Poissons,” (spoiler alert – Chef Louis likes seafood, especially eating it). Adam Zaleski led the cast in “Under the Sea,” one of the musical’s showstoppers.

Dale Roth spun the tunes all night, including backup for the Masquers cast. Nicole and Shawn Cardwell designed and put up the decorations. Food was provided by the crew from the downtown restaurant Simmer.

Allied Arts still has about half its season left, two performances in the Green Turtle series for children and two in the adult series. The Missoula Children’s Theater comes to town next week, with the performance of “Alice In Wonderland” Feb. 11. The Theatreworks production of “Charlotte’s Web” is set for March 4.

The Dallas Brass ensemble will perform March 24, followed by singer-songwriter Hal Ketchum March 31.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.