In 1978, Desert Magazine said, “Kathi creates a luminosity of her own.” That is the best way to describe not just her artwork, but Kathi Hilton Garvin herself. Kathi left us Thursday, October 7, 2021, but her expressions of light will continue to beautify galleries, hearts, and homes even as her direct influence is missed.
Kathi was born April 25, 1939 in Indio, California to John William Hilton and Eunice Mildred Griffith. Being the daughter of a famous artist father, Kathi found her growing up years to be a bit nomadic but surrounded by interesting celebrities. She loved growing up in the desert of Southern California and lived for a time in Sonora, Mexico. She attended the bohemian Desert Sun School in Idyllwild, a private school in Sherman Oaks, made a foray into modeling in Beverly Hills, and took classes at UCLA.
Although many comparisons have been made to her artist father, Kathi was largely self-taught. When she began painting, Kathi found mixing colors came easily to her. Her use of a palette knife, oils, and fossil wax brought depth and a sense of realism to her paintings. Mountains, meadows, and deserts were given moods and expression from her photographic memory. She painted both the majesty she saw in God’s creations and from the beauty of her soul.
Kathi was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Twentynine Palms CA Nov. 2, 1963 and found joy in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. She married the love of her life, Boyce Garvin, March 17, 1979, and they were sealed eternally in Salt Lake Temple August 15, 1983. She has missed Boyce over the past 15 years since his death, but October 7th would have brough a much anticipated and joyful reunion. Kathi was mom to many youth in foster care over the years who were able to find safety and belonging with her.
Kathi is one of the rare few who has discovered the secret to being happy in most any circumstance. She viewed this life and its painful challenges as temporary and trusted that because of Jesus Christ, she would again embrace those she loves. As an artist, she had a remarkable ability to see and create beauty in anything, in anyone. This caused her to suffer great loss as some she loved betrayed her trusting nature and kindness. But what is extraordinary about Kathi is that she would not blame or pass judgement and could therefore bypass bitterness and resentment. She was genuinely grateful for any visit, any small act of kindness.
Kathi left a luminous legacy beyond her paintings, her works of stained glass, sculptures, and tapestries.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. at the Hullinger Mortuary. A viewing will be held from 12:00 - 12:45 p.m.
Burial in the Roosevelt Memorial Park.
Condolences may be shared at www.hullingermortuary.com