Carol Mills with some her paintings in 2009. Photo by Evan Mills

A major retrospective of work by Idyllwild artist Carol Mills entitled, “Painted Feelings” opens at the Courtyard Gallery on Saturday, July 20 with a reception from 5-8 p.m.
The works gathered in the exhibition span a total of 70 years — beginning with pieces done when Mills was a teenager and extending through the end of her life in 2014.
On display will be a curated cross section of her paintings in oil and acrylic, drawings in charcoal and pastel, narrative sketchbooks from 10 countries, animations based on folk songs, and architectural renderings in watercolor and ink. Many of the pieces are being exhibited for the first time, including a stirring collection of self-portraits.
Mills studied art at La Esmeralda National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking in Mexico City, the Sorbonne in Paris, UCLA and UC Berkeley.
She also saw animation as an exciting art form. In the early 1950s, she worked at Disney on “Lady and the Tramp.”
In 1975, Carol, her husband Roy, and their children, Robin and Evan, moved to Idyllwild full time. Carol founded the Courtyard Gallery in 1980, which remains one of the longest running cooperative galleries in the state.
She had a particular vision for the kind of “art community” Idyllwild could become. Early on, she saw that many local artists had important things to say with their work that were not necessarily mainstream or commercially oriented.
While she felt that conventional shops that sold art had their place and performed an important service, she also saw that artists needed a gallery space to showcase their experiments and personal explorations without the economic pressure to bend the work to someone else’s notion of what would sell. To make this possible, the Mills family underwrote the gallery expenses for decades.

Mills painting in 1947. The show will include pieces she created in her teens. Photo by Stuart Roe


In 1977, Carol wrote about making the transition from painting familiar objects to abstract expressionism as one in which “the emphasis was not on the ‘known’ rules and theories but, instead, on the artist’s emotional response to objects, and to the paint and canvas. The inner images became more important than the external reality of objects, and learning to ‘see’ was to take the place of looking ‘at’ things.”
The exhibition will run from July 20 to Aug. 5 with viewing hours Friday through Monday noon-4 p.m. at the Courtyard Gallery located at 26120 Ridgeview Dr. between the Shell Gas Station and The Fort.

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