Artists murdered in Irvine remembered for contributions to art community

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nolan Pillay stood before a judge in Santa Ana to face charges in the murders of his mother and younger brother.

The 37-year-old was arrested shortly after police arrived at the family's home in Irvine on Tuesday. When officers arrived at the scene they found 35-year-old Aryln Pillay and 58-year-old Gloria "LuLu" Pillay dead.

The family moved from South Africa to the U.S. when Aryln Pillay was just a boy. Aryln Pillay and Gloria Pillay were artists.

"I didn't want to believe it because it's shocking. This is the last person I think it would happen to. I think we were all shocked, all his friends, all his family," said Arlyn Pillay's friend Victor Kumar, who worked as his photographer for the past three years.

Gloria Pillay owned an art gallery in Palm Springs, and Arlyn Pillay went on to graduate from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

"From when he was at a young age, she just encouraged him to be an artist," Kumar said.

Two years ago, Arlyn Pillay opened the Arlyn Pillay Art Gallery on Newport Avenue in Tustin.

His paintings cover the walls of the art gallery, as well as clothing.

Bouquets of flowers, sketches and poems from a memorial the night before graced a stage in the front of the gallery.

"He was just the embodiment of a free spirit. He was someone who worked really, really hard. Someone who put in hours and hours into his work," Kumar recalled.

Friends started raising money to cover funeral expenses and to keep the galleries open. They set up a GoFundMe page and hope to raise $100,000.

"This was his baby. This was his dream. We're going to do everything we can to keep it open," Kumar said as he looked around the gallery.

On one wall hangs a very large portrait that Arlyn Pillay painted of his father.

His father came to court with a friend for Nolan Pillay's arraignment. Outside of court he politely said it was too soon to say anything.

Nolan Pillay had his arraignment continued to Feb. 8. He was being held in jail without bail. The motive for the murders still remains a mystery.

Kumar declined to talk about Nolan Pillay, instead wanting to focus on honoring the Orange County artists.

"It's a huge loss to the art community," he stated.

Arlyn Pillay had two art shows planned at his Tustin gallery before his murder, one on Friday and the other on Saturday. Friends said the shows were going ahead as scheduled to give people a chance to pay their respects.

"Arlyn loved giving other artists a chance to showcase their work," Kumar said. "This is a little bit difficult for us, but he wouldn't want us to stop. Arlyn wasn't the kind of dude to take breaks so why should we."
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