As an artist, she had several successful exhibitions, and has been featured Desert Magazine and Southwest Art Magazine, and was invited to participate in the Frank Tenney Johnson Memorial Show at the Gene Autry Hotel in Palm Springs.
Kathi uses a palette knife, and a technique crafted by her father of mixing fossil wax with oil paints to achieve a texture perspective, giving the finished painting realistic impressions of depth. Her paintings show an exceptional luminosity and often receive adoring comments from gallery visitors.
Behind the desk at the visitors center in Death Valley National Park hang a pair of large paintings by John and Kathi Hilton.
Kathi has given us two fantastic tales of her childhood days growing up in the home of John W. Hilton.
One of John Hilton's friends was aviator and industrialist, Howard Hughes. On several occasions, Hughes landed his airplane on the highway in front of John's humble gem shop and art studio in Thermal, CA. Once, he brought dinner with him, fresh Maine lobster for little Kathi's birthday. Today, lobster remain's Kathi's favorite dish.
Another of John's friends and painting partners was actor James Cagney. Cagney liked to get out of Hollywood and, visit John at his Twentynine Palms ranch and paint. It was Cagney who gave Kathi the best advice she ever received. She told the acting legend that people liked her paintings, but were always comparing them to those of her father. Cagney responded, "Don't you worry about that Katy, you just paint what's in your heart."
Sources: Conversations with Kathi Hilton, Sonora Sketchbook by John Hilton, 1947; Death Valley Visitor's Center, Furnace Creek, CA., Desert Magazine November 1979. Back to top of page