CHICO >> Local artist Maria Phillips, who owned Avenue 9 Gallery in Chico, has died.
Phillips died on Sunday in her home, surrounded by family, according to the Avenue 9 Gallery newsletter which was sent out Monday.
Phillips was among the local residents who encouraged art and artists whenever possible.
She worked hard on fundraisers and activities to help artists, and was instrumental in the fight to keep Bidwell Mansion open when the state threatened to close it as a budget move.
She was active in the Art Guild, and was an advocate and organizer of many art events.
Debra Lucero, who called Maria a “dear friend” on her Facebook page, wrote this about Phillips: “Many don”t know what we lost. Her creative mind darted from politics to arts to history to community to family and back again.”
Phillips and Lucero worked together on the mansion project, and Lucero said she was a “pioneer woman who created a sense of place through art and incredible arts activities. She has left a beautiful unfinished tapestry of Chico. We should endeavor to pick up her work.”
Leila Rodriguez, former editor of the Enterprise-Record”s art and entertainment sections, called the loss of Phillips “a shock.”
“I just talked to her last week.” she said.
Rodriguez called her a “tenancious little woman who was so full of life and so passionate of the arts.”
Every artist who showed at the Avenue 9 Gallery “was the most important person at that time,” Rodriguez said. “She was amazing.”
Phillips Facebook page was filled with accolades and sorrowful messages from artists to city and business leaders.
Chico City Councilor Tami Ritter called her an “art advocate extraordinaire.”
Alan Sheckter, who worked with Phillips while he was the E-R arts and entertainment editor, said she ” was the best, most enthused advocate for art in all the land. This area is much richer for her arts efforts!”
In April, Phillips told Rodriguez, “So much pleasure and enjoyment of life can be had just by having beauty around you, inside your house.” Her art was among those displayed at a public show when the comment was made.
No announcement has been recieved about further arrangements.
Reach reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.