Described by those who knew her as a loving spirit and a beautiful, creative soul, artist and arts advocate, Katie Phillips passed away over the weekend. The former Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association project manager was always finding ways to bring people together through the arts, especially in Bixby Knolls and the greater Long Beach community.

“Katie filled our office with positivity,” wrote BKBIA director Blair Cohn on Facebook Monday. “She played music and sang all day long. Every day.”

Cohn described her as “a genius graphic designer and artist who took creativity to the next level.”

The community responded with comments and condolences, saying Phillips was a “beautiful creative soul,” that she was “always smiling.”

Phillips had a hand in organizing numerous monthly events, from First Fridays to Knights of the (Round) Turntable as well as the family bike ride, Kidical Mass. She also co-founded Squeeze Art Collective, a nonprofit that provided classes, events and other opportunities for artists.

On top of her work as a graphic designer, she was also a talented fine artist. In 2016, she painted a mural in North Long Beach for council member Rex Richardson’s Creative Corridor Challenge, turning an often-tagged wall into a point of pride for the neighborhood, as well as other murals and artwork.

She also cared deeply for the environment and often encouraged others to buy reusable items and refrain from using harmful chemicals in their gardens. A recipient of the Green Artist of the Year award, Mayor Robert Garcia said her work was integral to promoting environmental health and sustainability in Long Beach.

Mural by Katie Phillips for Rex Richardson’s Creative Corridor Project. August, 2016. Photo by Asia Morris.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Phillips was candid about her years-long battle with the disease in 2017, often sharing her struggle with friends on Facebook. Her vulnerability in sharing her story was an inspiration to her friends and followers. She posted in March that she hoped her experience which helped her pursue happiness, would resonate with others.

“I hope my story will help anyone who is wondering if there’s a better way, or if they should take a leap and do or be what they dream instead of doing or being what someone else says.”

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].