Photos by Evy Mages

Eighty young professionals mingled recently in the small, dimly lit basement of Napoleon Bistro & Lounge in Adams Morgan, surrounded by dozens of pieces of artwork along the wall.

Some pieces were worth thousands, but the artists didn’t want a dime. Instead, they were responding to a call by Create A Cure, a new organization that puts together fundraisers to support cancer research.

Through ticket and art sales, Create A Cure raised nearly $5,000, which is to fund a Susan G. Komen gala this fall.

Paintings of female bodies, photography and abstract collages drew long stares and conversation.

Many of the guests were acquaintances of Melinda Parrish, an associate director at the management consulting firm Cowan & Associates, who started the organization in honor of her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor and a painter

“She always encouraged me to live a creative lifestyle,” Parrish said.

A painter herself, Parrish often thought about selling her own artwork for charitable causes.

It wasn’t until a conversation with a colleague, who sold artwork for charity, that she decided to set up a group to do it.

Parrish planned the event and sent an e-mail to publicize it to friends and family, most of whom offered to help get the word out to artists who might contribute. One even created an online video.

It wasn’t long before Parrish had dozens of artists looking to donate.

“It’s inspiring for other people to see how she pulled this together,” said Jeff Petrie, director of membership at the Phillips Collection.

Many in attendance worked for the Defense Department, a major client of Parrish’s company. Others in attendance were from Maga Design, Serco, CACI and Art Jamz.