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The local arts community has received sad news and experience da great loss with the sudden passing of Larry Mills, who died of heart failure last week.

Larry was one of the most well-known artists attending Neighborhood Center of the Arts, a nonprofit center for artists with developmental disabilities in Grass Valley.

Larry had been involved with the center since its inception in 1984, and was previously involved in art classes at the Nevada County Community Workshop, which were commenced by Neighborhood Center co-founder, Gillian Hodge, in 1973.

His career as an exhibiting artist began with an exhibition at Sierra College in Rocklin in 1977, titled “A Line Has Meaning Too, You Know.”

He was also awarded a grant by the California Arts Council in 1980. Since then, his work has been exhibited in Sacramento, Mendocino, Davis, and many locations in Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Larry’s work was exhibited and sold in Brussels, Belgium at the Art en Marge Gallery in 1994. Larry was subsequently featured in exhibitions in both The Netherlands and Denmark.

At Neighborhood Center of the Arts, Larry was the subject of one-man retrospective exhibitions in 1988 and again in 2003, and his art was featured in countless group exhibitions at NCA’s gallery and on popular T-shirts and coffee mugs.

He was also the featured artist at the cooperative New Visions Gallery in Sacramento in February, 2006.

Last month, Larry was one of 10 local artists showcased in United Way of Nevada County’s online art auction celebrating its 25th year in Nevada County.

His unique style was often distinguished by use of black outlines, bold colors and fanciful images in which men in hats and coffee are recurring motifs.

In Larry’s own words: “I like going to restaurants so I can look at things: tables, vases, pictures and waitresses. Sometimes I see bowls, coffee cups and spoons. When I make a drawing and it’s colored, it’s real good. Then I date and sign the picture.”

While most of Larry’s art is on paper, he also explored clay sculpture and textile painting, as well as abstract works.

Larry was proud of being a working artist who gained the respect and admiration of audiences both locally and beyond: “I’m a famous artist. My drawings are personal. I draw upside down to get the big picture. I like working; it’s my job. I can’t see myself stopping. I draw whatever is in my mind. The pictures come alive. The paintbrush comes alive. The paintbrush is my tool. Coffee is my drink.”

Condolences are extended to Larry’s family and his many friends at Neighborhood Center of the Arts and in the community.

Memorial service scheduled

There will be a memorial for Larry Mills at 1 p.m. today at Neighborhood Center of the Arts, rear of 200 Litton Dr., #212, Grass Valley. The public is invited.

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