San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Millicent Tomkins

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Millicent Tomkins, Mill Valley Artist, Dies at 91.

Millicent Tomkins (née Hanson) passed away on April 25th, 2021 surrounded by her family.

Millicent was born in San Francisco and grew up in the hills above the Castro district. As a child she showed great aptitude for the arts and studied piano, voice, and drawing. Millicent graduated from Lowell High School and attended the University of California, Berkeley where she studied art and literature. There she met her future husband, the biochemist Gordon Tomkins. While living in Washington DC, Millicent studied voice at the Peabody Conservato­ry in nearby Baltimore.

Millicent made her profession­al concert debut as a soprano at age 30 on the prestigiou­s Phillips Gallery series, for which she received rave reviews in the Washington Post. She continued her singing career for the next 20 years.

Millicent also raised a family, and kept a number of small studios where she developed her distinctiv­e style of visual expression. Working in oils, watercolor­s, gouache, and ink, she drew inspiratio­n from both the everyday and the exotic. Millicent described much of her work as “Magical Realism”, a combinatio­n of realistic settings and surreal elements. Drawing from her encycloped­ic knowledge of classic painting, she often used visual quotes from the Old Masters to develop a narrative within the canvas.

In 1969 Millicent and her family moved to Mill Valley. After the death of her husband in 1975, she relocated to another house in Mill Valley, attracted to its spacious garden and a separate building in which she created her ideal painting studio. For the next 40 years the studio at 31 Shell Road was a meeting place for the musicians, artists, audiences, and supporters of the arts who made up her wide circle of friends. Millicent and her long-time partner and fellow gardener, Benjamin Little (1945-2019) hosted concerts, receptions, rehearsals, and open studios where she reveled at the intersecti­on of classical music and classical painting. During the quiet times in between, she painted passionate­ly and prolifical­ly. Those who knew Millicent will remember her for her intense creative energy, her innate curiosity, and fine humor. She is survived by her two daughters Leslie Tomkins and Tanya Tomkins, and her granddaugh­ter Emma Tomkins Barrett. Donations in her name may be made to: Moab Music Festival https://www.tix.com/ticketsale­s/moabmusicf­est/2970/ donations

Valley of the Moon Music Festival https://valleyofth­emoonmusic­festival.org/ ways-to-give/

American Bach Soloists https://www.americanba­ch. org/annual-giving.html

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