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Featuring The Joshua Meador
Desert Paintings
by Kathi Hilton
Seascapes & Landscapes
by Alex Dzigurski II
Seascapes & Landscapes
by Linda Sorensen
Watercolors by
Jean Warren
Bodega Bay Photography by Diane Perry

Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Exterior Thumbnail

Kathi Hilton & the California Desert 960

Kathi posing at the reception for her work at the Twentyine Palms Art Gallery in September
Kathi Hilton at Twentynine Palms Exhibition The California Desert Paintings
of Kathi Hilton

Kathi Hilton has impact. Gallery visitors praise her style. They stop, pause, inhale and involve themselves with her artistry.

They use adjectives like "luminescent, bright, soft, feminine and poetic." They marvel at how much is communicated with Kathi's delicate hues and soft colors. They analyze Kathi's backgrounds, often distant mountains against expansive skies gently transitioning from darker to lighter tones, comparing them with her impasto textured foregrounds of desert rocks and arid plants. And often, they add comments, softly saying in a near whisper, "I never knew the desert was so beautiful."

Kathi's has an impressive artistic pedigree.

Her father was the famous desert painter, John W. Hilton, a master at rendering desert light and hues. He was truly a learned and renaissance man especially tuned in to the desert, its geology, its botany, its zoology, and its Indian cultures.

Kathi's father had a magnetic personality, attracting similarly minded and passionate people, many

Kathi HIlton Windows in Time
Windows in Time
, 18 x 24
Kathi HIlton Stardust
, 18 x 24
Kathi Hilton Whispering Dawn
Whispering Dawn, 24 x 18

of them accomplished in a wide variety of endeavors, all sturdy enough to endure the harshness of the desert, yet sensitive enough to exalt its majesty and beauty.

While growing up, Kathi's father's friends became her artistic uncles, among them Maynard Dixon, Jimmy Swinnerton and Clyde Forsythe and Marjorie Reed (also Kathi's babysitter). John's friends also included none artists . On several occasions, Howard Hughes flew out to visit John from Los Angeles to John art gallery and gem shop in Coachella, landing his airplane on the highway out front. One time, he brought lobster for Kathi's birthday feast.

Kathi Hilton Glowing Moment
Glowing Moment
20 x 7
Kathi Hilton Dunes in Spring Dress
Dunes in Spring Dress
, 15 x 30

Kathi's painting style is closely attuned to her father's, but their are ways they differ.

Kathi's artistry is cradled in her kindly and personable nature. She paints almost exclusively with a palette knife, creating strikingly contrasting effects. Her smoothly painted backgrounds transition to her textured foregrounds. Her soft color is achieved through the use of fossil wax, a mineral substance which reduces ultra violet rays nearly one hundred percent. Kathi says this is one of the ways she achieves her soft luminosity.

Kathi Hilton Symphony in Sand
Symphony in Sand
, 36 x 48
Kathi Hilton Awakening Spring
Awakening Spring
, 20 x 24
Kathi Hilton Beaconing Palms
Beckoning Palms
, 24 x 36

Like other families, Kathi's family had its share of difficulties. She doesn't like to dwell on it, but the divorce between John and her mother resulted in a four year long estrangement between her father and herself, but the difficulties were eventually overcome. Forgiveness and reconciliation allowed Kathi to reestablish a closer relationship with her father in his later years, including several joint exhibitions.

Kathi Hilton Enchanted Oasis
Enchanted Oasis
, 16 x 20
Kathi Hilton Sands in Spring Dress
Sands in Spring Dress
, 24 x 30
Kathi Hilton First Kiss of Fall
First Kiss of Fall
, Grand Teton National Park, 16 x 20

John built a new home and a new life in Twentynine Palms where his magnetic personality served him well.

At an open-air art show in Palm Springs, John Hilton met General Eisenhower. During WWII, Ike had learned from Winston Churchill the value of painting as a solitary and contemplative way to balance the demands of office. After the war, Ike took up painting.

When serving as President, Ike's aides would later say the most secret place in the White House was the President's closeted studio in the second floor residence.

At that open-air art show in Palm Springs, Ike touched a fresh work by John Hilton, and immediately apologized to Hilton for leaving a finger print in the still wet paint. John graciously accepted Ike's apology and retorted, "That's OK General, you just raised the price of that painting significantly."

Kathi Hilton Touched by His Grace
Touched by His Grace
, 24 x 30
Kathi Hilton Tranquil Moment
Tranquil Moment,
Grand Teton National Park, 12 x 16
Kathi Hilton Golden Promise
Golden Promise
, 15 x 30

From this encounter, yet another Hilton friendship was born. Thereafter, when Ike visited Palm Springs, he would often go missing for hours. Only the President's driver knew he was over at Hilton's house painting. In 1957, John Hilton was invited to Washington for Ike's second inaugural, and John presented the President with a painting which Ike placed in the Oval Office. (See previous newsletter article)

John Hilton also enjoyed a friendship with one of his Twentynine Palms neighbors, actor James Cagney.
Kathi HIlton Joshua Dawn
Joshua Dawn
, 20 x 16
Kathi Hilton Miniatures
Whispering Dawn
, Miniature Pair, each 5 x 5

Like so many of John Hilton's friends, Cagney had a passion for the desert and truly loved the privacy and quiet he could find outside Hollywood. He enjoyed John Hilton's olympic-sized, sand-bottomed, thermally-heated, mineral-water pool, and would spend hours painting with Hilton in John's home studio. Kathi, who independently enjoyed a friendship with James Cagney's daughter and knew Jimmy in Los Angeles grew even closer with him when she discovered the actor's close friendship with her father.

Kathi Hilton Flowering White Yuccas
Flowering White Yuccas
, 20 x 24
Kathi Hilton Enchanted Desert
Enchanted Desert
, 24 x 36
Kathi Hilton Dawns Dream
Dawns Dream
, 18 x 24

After Kathi had achieved some notoriety in her own right, she went to Jimmy for some advice. She told Jimmy that although many people enjoyed her paintings, they were always comparing them to those of her father. Kathi often retells the tale of the best advice she ever received. Jimmy responded to her saying, "Don't you worry about that Katy, you just paint what's in your heart."

Kathi Hilton Dawn in the PalmsDawn in the Palms, 11 x 14

Kathi took that advice and never again worried about how her work compared with her father's. She says with a twinkle in her eye, that she paint's as Jimmy advised her, with her heart. Her show in September at the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery was quite a celebration. Kathi was interviewed by the local press and met with people she had known back in her Twentynine Palms days.

We are most pleased to host Kathi Hilton's The California Desert in Bodega Bay. For those who have spent any time at all in the magical land surrounding Palm Springs, the Salton Sea, Death Valley, or Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park, you will enjoy this show. So make to visit in October and experience Kathi's interpretation of the enchanted majesty of the California Desert. She'd be thrilled to learn you've chosen to add one of her works to your collection.

Kathi is best known for her paintings, but she has also worked with bronze.
Kathi Hilton Bronze Peaceful Palm
Peaceful Palm
, Bronze
Kathi HIlton Bronze Cacti
, Bronze
Kathi Hilton Yucca Fantasy
Yucca Fantasy
, Bronze
Kathi Hilton Saguaro
, Bronze
Kathi HIlton Bronze Yucca in Bloom
Yucca in Bloom
, Bronze
Kathi Hilton Bronze Palm
, Bronze