Carolyn Heller

Carolyn Heller Art Exhibitions and Sales


Artists receive grants from arts council

Tribune Staff report
Published: March 9, 2016

TAMPA — Fourteen artists have been awarded grants totaling $40,000 by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County as part of its 2016 Individual Artist Grants program. The grant program is designed to provide support for the professional growth of accomplished, local artists. Artists applied for funds for specific projects that were reviewed and scored by a six-member panel of arts professionals in February. All of the artists live in Hillsborough County. The Arts Council’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Feb. 25 to approve the panel recommendations for awards. Grantees include:

♦ Laura Waller, painter, $3,000 for production of exhibition catalog of new work. Laura Waller, the highest-scoring visual artist, also received the Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award, providing her with an additional $1,000. Heller was a popular visual artist in Tampa and upon her death in 2011, her family designated memorials in her name be directed to Hillsborough Arts.

♦ Daniel Balk, jewelry artist, $3,000 for equipment to expand metal art technique.
♦ Paula Brett, multimedia artist, $3,000, materials, supplies for new series of work.
♦ Aric Brian, musician, $3,000 for attendance, teaching at Portoheli International Music Festival (Greece).
♦ Heidi Clapp-Temple, photographer, $2,946 for equipment, attendance at photographers’ festival.
♦ Edgar Sanchez Cumbas, painter, $3,000 for materials for new series of work.
♦ Kimberli Cummings, potter, $3,000 for clay equipment, studio improvement.
♦ Rebecca Flanders, photographer, $2,195 for equipment, materials for exhibition of new work.
♦ Myriam Ayala Frederick, ballet dancer and teacher, $2,940 for classical training at Paris Opera Ballet, London Royal Ballet.
♦ Brenda Gregory, multimedia artist, $3,000 for metal art studio equipment.
♦ Kym O’Donnell, photographer, $2,000 for materials, framing, equipment for photography.
♦ Eddie Rivera, muralist, $2,919 for materials, equipment rental for new work.
♦ Emilia Sargent, actor, $3,000 for training at NY Atlantic Acting School.
♦ Peter Stilton, painter, $3,000 for materials, framing for exhibition of new work.

Tampa artist looks to enhance proposed green trail

By Jimmy Guerts, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer
April 2, 2015

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — A long-planned Tampa trail has yet to be completed, but it now has its first proposed piece of art.

Glass artist Susan Gott won this year’s Carolyn F. Heller Grant, which she said she will use to create terrazzo and glass art benches for Green ARTery, a planned 22-mile perimeter trail connecting 22 Tampa neighborhoods.

Gott, who owns Phoenix Glass Studios in Seminole Heights, said she envisions the benches as something passengers on the trail can both sit on and admire as art.

“They’re functional, but they’ll tie some element of nature or the park or the Green ARTery trail to the sculpture, the bench, and the decorative element of the glass will do the same,” she said.

Gott said the plan is to construct three benches along the trail, with potential locations including the Seminole Heights-based Rivercrest Park and Ignacio Haya Linear Park.

The grant will help pay for the cost of the glass and labor of her studio assistants, she said. Steward-Mellon Co. will help with the cost of materials and labor for the terrazzo, which the benches will be made with.

“Terrazzo can have stone and shell and glass, and in this case it’s going to have art glass, incorporated into concrete, and the concrete can have a shape,” Gott said.

As a possible example, she brought up a babbling brook in Rivercrest Park, which she said reminds her of the state’s springs and Florida imagery like manatees and mermaids.

“So if you can imagine the bench in the shape of a mermaid or a manatee, then those glass pieces would be embedded into the surface, so it might have a green mermaid tail with these shimmering glass scales,” she said.

Green ARTery co-founder Myron Griffin said he held a meeting with city of Tampa public art manager Robin Nigh and local artists, including Gott, discussing possible public art ideas on the perimeter trail.

“I think that was the spark that got her asking herself what could she do along the trail in the way of public art, and she came up with the bench concept,” he said.

For now, Griffin said, their goal is to get the trail started and build public support, with hopes of having a continuous trail by 2020.

Gott said Atlanta’s BeltLine trail, and their Art on the Atlanta BeltLine public art exhibition, provides an example of what the Green ARTery trail could mean for Tampa.

“It ties all those communities together, and we need more of that in Tampa,” she said.

South County Career Center students excited about designing mural

By Monica Bennett, Tampa Bay Times Correspondent
Friday, February 21, 2014

RUSKIN — Christy Shaw enrolled at the South County Career Center to continue her high school studies and learn a trade.

She’s also thrilled to pursue art, since drawing tops the list of her favorite pastimes.

But Shaw admits she’s a little bit nervous that the artwork she and others will create will be on display in the city’s downtown instead of in a sketchbook.

“Everyone in Ruskin is going to see it!” said Shaw, who lives in Ruskin.

Local artist Michael Parker is working with Shaw and 23 other students at the career center to create three murals.

Parker, a well-respected artist who lives in Ruskin, holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and the University of South Florida. The Massachusetts native teaches art at Hillsborough Community College and made headlines last year for designing the 12,000-square-foot mural on Adamo Drive in Tampa that depicts the history of Ybor City.

Parker is fond of the kids at the South County Career Center, where students have a chance to earn a high school diploma while also learning a trade. He is happy this project is helping them enjoy their artistic passions while also promoting their school.

“They’re just starting out,” he said. “They’re still excited about creating things.”

The hand-painted murals will depict some of the students as well as the seven courses of study at the school: nursing assistant, JROTC, automotive, culinary arts, emergency medical responder, construction technology and teen parent. The murals also will feature inspiring words, such as determination, teamwork and confidence.

When finished, the murals will be displayed on the side of a building in downtown Ruskin for about a year. They will then be returned to the school and placed in the cafeteria.

Parker works with the students on Mondays. Each teen, armed with pencils and chalk, works on a specific section of the panels, which are made of aluminum and plastic. Over the next few months, they will paint the panels and cut them into medallion shapes.

Parker consults, tweaks and corrects, but most importantly, guides with kind words and plenty of praise.

“This is one of the best groups I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “These kids have real focus and talent.”

Parker said he is impressed with the students’ work ethic and hopes the mural project boosts their confidence and exposes the community to the good work going on at the career center.

The school’s staff and students realize Parker could be working with students at other schools but chose them.

“We feel very fortunate,” said Vickie Thomas, the career center’s program adviser.

Parker received $3,000 from the Hillsborough County Arts Council and Carolyn F. Heller family grant to create the murals with the students.

For Shaw, 19, and Edy Morales, 16, the sessions with Parker are the highlights of their week.

“It’s not work,” said Morales, of Wimauma. “It’s something I enjoy doing.”

Murals going on display in Ruskin tell story of students, their school

By Yvette C. Hammett | Tampa Tribune Staff

Published: February 17, 2014

SUN CITY — When Kayla McDonald finds herself angry or depressed, she turns to art.

“It’s my getaway,” she said, taking a break from her work on a mural that will go on display in downtown Ruskin.Diagnosed as bipolar at a young age, Kayla said she dropped out of school twice before moving to Ruskin.

“I had been bullied,” she said. “Finally, my mom decided enough was enough and we moved to Ruskin and discovered the South County Career Center,” an alternative school for students seeking a second chance at an education.

The mural she and 24 other students are creating will show the community what their school offers and what it means to them.

“I absolutely love it here,” said Kayla, who is in her junior year. “I am well-liked, accepted here and the teachers are phenomenal.”

Having a chance to share that with the community through art is huge, she said.

Artist Michael Parker, who created an enormous mural on several old Quonset huts on State Road 60 in Ybor City, received the Carolyn F. Heller Grant award for a public art project from the Hillsborough County Arts Council. He has been working with the students since September to conceptualize and create three large medallions that will be displayed on the side of a building on 1st Avenue.

The medallions will feature artists’ renderings of actual students at the school and imagery representing the seven programs the center offers, from culinary and auto mechanics to Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), certified nursing assistant and others. Words like unity, responsibility and determination will surround each medallion.

Beyond the actual art, the project is about pride in their school and what the students are accomplishing, Parker said. He said he has worked with about a dozen student groups in the past and “this group, by far, is the best I’ve ever worked with. They are focused and very creative.”

Until this project, student Edgar Albizo’s art was all about graffiti, he said. Now, he’s learning about colors, scale and how to build a team.

“Without team work, nothing gets done,” he said.

Lizi Contreras, known among her peers as “the girl who draws,” is excited to be part of the mural team. “I think it’s great,” she said. “We don’t have an actual art program here, so working on this is a great get-away.”

“It give us a chance to show what we think of our lives and career choices and our school,” said Tykwuan Eaddy, whose image is splashed across one of the medallions. “This will help people understand what this school is all about.”

Some have the impression that the school is for juvenile delinquents, Parker said. By working with the students on this art project, he’s out to help them show otherwise, he said.

Heller, the Florida artist for whom the grant was named, was influenced by abstract expressionism early in her 60-year career and helped establish Hillsborough County’s Public Art Committee, which selects and purchases art for public display.


GalaRE and more at Tampa Museum of Art

Artist Michael Parker, left, received the first Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, presented Feb. 28 by the late artists’ children, from left, Janet, Fran, Alan and Emily at Tampa Museum of Art. Photo by Amy Scherzer

by Amy Scherzer, Tampa Bay Times
– March 07, 2013

Pat yourselves on the back, Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts volunteers, for showcasing incredible talent from near and far. Art patrons discovered attending the GalaRE cocktail party Saturday was the most fun way to meet “the best of the best”— the juror-selected winners celebrating at the Tampa Museum of Art. The 300 “artfully chic” guests and artists mingled over Capital Grille’s leek soup, salsa and sliders, buying or selling eight of the 69 pieces on display for more than $11,500.

Earlier that week, the family of the late Carolyn Heller previewed a 30-piece retrospective of her vibrant artwork for fans of the frank, fun-loving artist. Friends keenly felt her absence as they swapped stories and enjoyed her favorite drinks, cosmopolitans and lemonade, and Southern specialities, pimento cheese, deviled eggs and cheese straws. Hurry, the exhibit can be seen through Sunday then purchased through the family’s online gallery at

Exhibition pays tribute to the art of Carolyn Heller

Tampa Bay Online – March 02, 2013

Carolyn Heller (1937-2011) was known and loved for her thick Alabama accent, her wit, her sense of humor and, of course, her art. Though she was born and raised in Alabama, she has left a wonderful legacy — her art — to the city she called home for most of her adult life.

The late artist Carolyn Heller painted on fabrics, metal, umbrellas and more in her later years.

The Tampa Museum of Art honors her memory in an exhibit that will hang in the Saunders Foundation Gallery through March 10.

The 30 pieces are organized according to three distinct painting periods in her life: Early Career, Middle Career and Later Career. The arrangement mimics the way her art is displayed on the website her family put together after her death.

“When we went to build the website, I thought it would be nice for people to view them in their chronological order,” said Fran Heller, one of the artist’s daughters. “Her style is so visibly different from when she was early in her artistic career to later in life. Stylistically she definitely grew and changed.”

In the years of her early career, from 1950 to 1979, there are many florals; they show the beginnings of the bold, loose, vibrant, style that later came to characterize Heller’s art. Many of them were done while Heller was a student at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in New Orleans.

During her middle years, she created the signature piece to be auctioned at the benefit for the Tampa AIDS Network. The museum is displaying a signed poster of the original, which was sold. At the bottom of the piece is the handwritten phrase, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose… a ribbon at a time.”

“Everyone has always loved that line,” Fran Heller said. “The Tampa Museum of Art wanted to know if we knew who had purchased the original in the auction. We didn’t. We asked everyone we knew, posted the question on Facebook and asked many in the Tampa art community if they knew, but no one knew.”

Any information about who owns the painting can be given to the family via the website,

In her later career, beginning in 2000, Carolyn Heller got more into abstraction, with lines and forms that might or might not represent something in reality. Everything is still bold and bright and full of energy. She also began painting on objects other than canvas.

“If anything sat there long enough she would paint on it,” said Josette Urso, a friend and fellow artist who grew up in Tampa and now lives in New York City. “I didn’t know her in her earlier days when she worked on the easel. I knew her when she was painting on things. She would always eye surfaces. Every surface was a possible project for Carolyn.”

It seems propitious that the museum exhibit of Heller’s work spans the two-day Gasparilla Arts Festival taking place today and Sunday next door at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

“The timing is perfect,” said Fran Heller. “She loved to go as a patron, but she never had a booth. That was one of our mother’s favorite shows, and we used to go with her even as kids.”

Gathering their mother’s art after her death was a family affair, a nostalgic adventure into the past for the four siblings: Fran, Emily Heller, Janet Heller and Alan Heller. They found nearly 150 paintings spanning some 60 years. And sometimes they got a surprise.

“We found this whole series of prints that we had never seen before,” Fran said. “They were titled and signed. Usually she would tell me if she was in the process of working on a new screen. But I had no idea about these. It was just a fun find for us.”

Several of these “found” screen prints are in the exhibit, including one called “Good News.”

“Since we don’t know exactly when she did these, we wondered what good news had arrived that day,” Fran Heller said.

The family is keeping their mother’s memory alive in other ways.

In October they loaned Heller’s artwork to Kate Jackson Community Center on Rome Avenue so children in the After-School Activity program could paint something in her style.

“She loved to sit with her grandchildren and paint, [They called her “Cacky”] Fran said. “Whenever we had a family reunion, she would bring her paints and spread them out and paint. And the kids just loved it.”

The family is negotiating to donate three pieces of Heller’s art that will hang permanently in the Kate Jackson Center.

The siblings also have sponsored a monetary grant through the Hillsborough County Arts Council that will be awarded each year to a deserving Hillsborough County resident.

“She was such a big supporter of the arts in general,” Fran Heller said. “So we wanted to continue her support of the arts on her behalf and in her memory.”

The Tampa Museum of Art is at 120 W Gasparilla Plaza in downtown Tampa. Call the museum at 813-274-8130 or go to

Focus Should Shift from Imperiling Lens to Improving

by Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times – February 24, 2013
Artist Carolyn Heller was one of the first people to befriend me when I became a columnist 12 years ago. I still have fond memories of her Alabama accent and homemade gumbo. Known for her works featuring vivid colors, Heller died in 2011, but an exhibit of her work opens Friday at the Tampa Museum of Art. I’ll have to wear my Carolyn Heller-designed white tie when I check it out.

That’s all I’m saying.

Family of Carolyn Heller to share her art online, in museum exhibit

by Keeley Sheehan, Tampa Bay Times and South Shore & Brandon Times, October 28, 2012

When local artist Carolyn Heller passed away in August 2011, she left behind little everyday things, like the way she would whistle to get her four children’s attention when they were young.

Carolyn Heller wanted to see art in people’s lives, her daughter says. An online gallery is the family’s way of sharing her body of work.

“Now we still whistle for each other,” said daughter Fran Heller.

She left big things, too — including a collection of 150 pieces of art spanning a 60-year career. Her children grew up watching her paint, so most of the pieces they found in her South Tampa home were familiar. But there were also about 30 pieces they’d never seen before.

Now her family is sharing her art with the community through an online gallery set to launch next month and a Tampa Museum of Art exhibit planned for March.

On Thursday, they brought three of her pieces to the Kate Jackson Community Center in Hyde Park to teach children there about her life and style.

Katharine Walker-Herbert, team supervisor for Tampa Parks and Recreation, taught a group of 18 children about Heller’s work, explaining how she used bold colors and was
inspired by abstract expressionism.

“The feeling and the color is more important than making it look exactly like a little boy on a bicycle,” Walker-Herbert told the group, pointing to an early painting Heller did of her son Alan on a tricycle when he was 6. “To her, it was more important. That’s where she expressed herself.”

Heller loved to paint with her five grandchildren. She would spread paint and paper across a table during family reunions.

“The kids would come and sit with her for hours,” said Fran Heller, who lives in
California. She traveled back to Tampa for the Thursday lesson. Alan Heller, who lives in Tampa, brought his children, Benjamin, 8, and Sydney, 6, to paint with the group.

Heller’s work was colorful and vibrant and reflected her bold personality. She had an eye for interior design, often helped friends create flower arrangements, and helped hang artwork in her children’s homes.

“She was your classic artist,” Fran Heller said. “She had a real gift for arranging and knowing what the right artistic flair was.”

Heller died of a blood clot in August 2011, at age 74. She had lived in South Tampa since moving there in 1961. She was a proponent of public art as a member of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County from 1996 to 2004, and helped establish the county’s Public Art Committee.

“She had a bigger objective of wanting to see art in people’s lives,” Fran Heller said. The online gallery is “our way of sharing with the community her body of work.”

Heller’s family wanted to see her work shared with children, and hopes to offer more activities like Thursday’s in the future. Learning about an artist who was a member of their community makes art seem more accessible, Walker-Herbert said.

“If you never know an artist, you might not think it’s something that’s possible
for you,” she said.

During the lesson, Sydney and Benjamin painted fish the way their grandmother did. Sydney painted with her often, and Benjamin paints every Friday now at Dale Mabry Elementary.

The online gallery of Heller’s work will launch next month and show the range of her career, from pieces she did in the 1950s and ’60s to her later work. The website will also share memories and stories of her life from people who knew her, taken from a recording booth set up at her funeral last year.

The Tampa Museum of Art exhibit will run March 1-10, with an opening reception on Feb. 28.

Family of Carolyn Heller Launch Online Gallery, Donate to Center

The Heller family will donate art for permanent display following an instructional after-school painting class for children.

South Tampa-Hyde Park Patch, October 24, 2012 – The family of Carolyn Heller, a notable figure in the visual arts community, recently announced they will donate select pieces of her art to the Kate Jackson Community Center, 821 S. Rome Avenue.

On Thursday, Oct. 25, members of the Heller family will join the center’s after school activity program for a painting class with children aged 6-12 years old.

Three pieces from Heller’s personal portfolio will be on loan that day, and the children will learn about her works during an instructional painting class from Parks and Recreation Team Supervisor Katharine Walker-Herbert, who directs the Hyde Park and North Hubert Art Studios for the city.

“Carolyn loved teaching her five grandchildren to paint,” said Fran Heller, one of Carolyn’s daughters and the executor of her estate. “The idea that her style of painting will be taught to the children and to have her art exhibited in the community she called home is a great way to remember her contributions and inspire the children who play and learn there every day.”

The event will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Children will start painting at approximately 3:30 p.m., and their finished works will be featured alongside Heller’s originals at approximately 5 p.m.

Friends, family and art enthusiasts are invited to view the works until 6 p.m. The Heller family will work with the city’s division of public art to select and exhibit child-friendly pieces of her art on a permanent basis.

In November, a memorial “virtual art gallery” is scheduled to go live. The online gallery will feature paintings and other art from Carolyn Heller’s 60-year career.

Visit starting in November for opportunities to view and purchase items from Heller’s collection. In addition, the Tampa Museum of Art will have an exhibition featuring selected pieces of her art from February 28-March 10, 2013.

Late Artist’s Family Uncovers Hidden Trove of Prints

Fox 13, Tampa – South Tampa school children are getting a hands-on opportunity to learn about local art. Paintings from the collection of the late artist, Carolyn Heller, are being donated to a Hyde Park after-school center.

She had a vibrant personality that was known for spilling over onto her canvas.

“Her work is a great reflection of who she was,” Carolyn’s daughter, Fran Heller said Thursday.

Carolyn Heller called Hyde Park home for 50 years.

“After she passed away, we did an inventory of everything she had, fully expecting to see everything we were already familiar with,” Fran Heller said.

But family members unveiled a secret tucked inside Carolyn’s house.

“We came across a series of prints that none of us had ever seen before,” Fran Heller said.

Twenty pieces were uncovered in Heller’s old Hyde Park home. All of the works were complete; some were even signed and named.

Family members are donating some of the pieces to Hyde Park’s Kate Jackson Community Center, to teach little ones about the importance of local art.

“To actually have an artist’s work right in front of them is a rare experience for them,” said Tampa Parks & Recreation art instructor Katharine Walker-Herbert.

Instead of modeling their pint-sized paint-brushes after Picasso or Monet, they’re learning about through the hands of someone from their own hometown.

“A lot of times they learn about the famous artists, but there’s so many wonderful people that we have that can influence them locally,” Walker-Herbert said.

Heller’s work is also being launched on a free virtual gallery,, available online next month.

Those closest to Carolyn say it’s what she would have wanted. Her spirit is living on through each stroke of paint.

“She had a great following in the local community here, but it’ll give everyone a chance to really live her work a little bit more,” Fran Heller said.

A collection of Carolyn Heller’s work will also be featured in a Tampa Museum of Art exhibit in March.

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