Carolyn Heller

Carolyn Heller Art Exhibitions and Sales


← Older posts

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.


2015 Recipient of Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award is Susan Gott

Local Glass Artist Susan Gott Wins 2015 Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award, Plans Installation of Art/Glass Terrazzo Benches Along Tampa’s Green ARTery

Three Benches Planned for a Trio of Seminole Heights Area Parks Along the Hillsborough River.


TAMPA, Fla., March 10, 2015 – Carolyn Heller Art (, a popular artist in the Florida visual arts community, in conjunction with the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, today announced that local glass artist, Susan Gott, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Carolyn F. Heller Grant award. Gott is the fourth artist to win the grant as well as the first female and the first to have known the artist, Carolyn Heller.

“Carolyn was a fan of mine,” said Gott, who owns Phoenix Glass Studio Inc. in Seminole Heights. “She came to my studio during open houses and bought some of my work. (Winning this grant) means that much more to me having known her.”

Gott said the grant money will be used as a springboard to a project that she will begin in earnest this summer but that could take as much as a year to bring to fruition. She wants to install three art/glass terrazzo benches along the Green ARTery perimeter trail, which follows the Hillsborough River and aims to connect 22 neighborhoods along 22-miles from 40th Street to downtown Tampa. The plan is to place one bench each in River Boulevard Park, Ignacio Haya Linear Park and Rivercrest Park.

Gott envisions cyclists and pedestrians will use these sculptured benches to relax, rejuvenate and ponder.

“Most people involved with the Green ARTery don’t have that much experience with public art,” said Gott. “I’ve always wanted to make terrazzo and glass benches.”

Gott will work closely with Steward-Mellon, a Tampa terrazzo flooring and public art company that has pledged time and materials to fabricate the benches.

“It’s exciting that our mother’s legacy is able to touch another Tampa artist whom she knew, particularly for a public art installation” says Fran Heller, Carolyn Heller’s daughter who founded in her mother’s honor. “She would be one of the first to utilize these benches for their intended purposes.”

Some of Gott’s local public art can be seen in cast glass panels along a landscape trellis system on Zack Street, a chandelier in the Spring Hill Community Center in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa and in the waiting room of All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Gott was the highest scoring visual artist as determined by a panel of judges convened by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. The panel judged applicants based on impact of the artist or proposed project on the community, evidence of the artist’s commitment to personal artistic development, the potential for the proposed project to contribute to the artist’s personal growth, a realistic and well-defined budget and the quality of the artist’s work samples.


2015 – Susan Gott 2014 – Michael Covello 2013 – Michael Parker 2012 – Arnolkis Turro

ABOUT THE CAROLYN F. HELLER GRANT AWARD The Carolyn F. Heller Grant, an award supported by a fund initially created by donations to Hillsborough Arts, is presented annually to the top-scoring artist in the Council’s Individual Artist Grant Program. The program funds accomplished artists or those with promising potential, providing support for specific projects that would further advance the artists’ professional growth. Carolyn’s daughter, Fran Heller has recently pledged that the award will become a permanent gift to the Hillsborough Arts Council. Carolyn F. Heller was a Florida artist who created works of bold shape and vivid color. She was influenced by abstract expressionism early in her 60-year career, yet her style evolved to embrace an unambiguous and playful vitality that mirrored her personality. She started drawing and painting in the 1950s at Newcomb College in New Orleans. Beginning with printmaking, wood-cuts and acrylics on canvas, she expanded into mixed-media on fabric, furniture and other everyday items. In every context, her work was sensual and full of energy. Passionate about public art, she was a long-serving member of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. She also helped establish the county’s Public Art Committee, which selects and purchases artwork for public display. Visit for opportunities to view and purchase works from Heller’s private collection. See more of her work at

ABOUT SUSAN GOTT Susan Gott is an award-winning artist who has owned and operated her Phoenix Studio just north of Tampa since 1991. Gott earned her Bachelor of Science in art education from Radford University in Virginia in 1981 and her Master of Fine Arts in glass from Kent State University in Ohio in 1992. See her works at

2014 Recipient of Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award is Michael Covello

Local Artist Michael Covello Wins 2014 Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award, Plans Various Public Art Installations In Abandoned Tampa Buildings

The Potter’s Field Project to focus on Seminole Heights with 5-10 thought-provoking installations.


TAMPA, Fla., March 19, 2014 – The family of Carolyn F. Heller (, a popular figure in the Florida visual arts community, in conjunction with the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, today announced that local artist and installer Michael Covello has been named the 2014 recipient of the Carolyn F. Heller Grant award. Covello is the third artist to win this perpetual grant and wants to bring attention to the Seminole Heights neighborhood he has called home since 2010.

Covello will spearhead five to 10 art installations, called The Potter’s Field Project, starting within a month and spanning the entire summer, each taking a week or two to complete. He will use paint, fabric, canvas, wood, metal, paper and other materials, then thoroughly document the finished pieces with new photography equipment purchased with his award winnings.

Covello said he wants to spark thought and debate about not only his work, but the unique locations the installations will appear. That’s why he has chosen to work in abandoned buildings, including foreclosed homes. The Potter’s Field Project takes its name from the term for valueless areas of land turned into burial sites for the unknown.

“I knew it would be a project that would be difficult to do without support,” said Covello, 28. “I want to start a dialogue about the art, but also the locations and the socio-political aspect of what’s happened to the properties and the people who once dwelled there.”

Because the installations won’t last very long, Covello wants to center most of his effort around documenting the final product. He plans to exhibit the final documentation of this project at Tampa’s Community Stepping Stones, an after school art program for children. He hopes to host future art talks, centered on these installations, at local colleges and universities, including the University of South Florida where he earned a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts last year and currently works in the art department.

“Our mother had a special affinity for public art and also trained at USF,” says Fran Heller, Carolyn Heller’s daughter. “She would be delighted that a USF alumnus is applying the award in the local community through an artistic vehicle that meant so much to her. We look forward to seeing the results of Michael’s work.”

Covello, born and raised in New York, was the highest scoring visual artist as determined by a panel of judges convened by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. The panel judged applicants based on impact of the artist or proposed project on the community, evidence of the artist’s commitment to personal artistic development, the potential for the proposed project to contribute to the artist’s personal growth, a realistic and well-defined budget and the quality of the artist’s work samples.

2013 Recipient of Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award is Announced

Michael Parker, Fran Heller and Art Keeble

TAMPA, Fla. – (March 12, 2013) — Michael Parker, a visual artist specializing in painting and public murals, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Carolyn F. Heller Grant, awarded through Hillsborough Arts, Inc., a support organization for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. The announcement was made today at the reception for the Carolyn F. Heller exhibition that opened March 1 at the Tampa Museum of Art.

“A passionate supporter of public art, our mother was a longtime member of the Arts Council and would be happy to know the grantee will be using the award for public murals,” says Fran Heller, Carolyn Heller’s daughter and executor of her estate.  “We look forward to supporting Michael in his work.”

The Carolyn F. Heller Grant, a permanent award supported by a fund created by donations to Hillsborough Arts, is presented annually to the top-scoring artist in the Council’s Individual Artist Grant Program. The program funds accomplished artists or those with promising potential, providing support for specific projects that would further advance the artists’ professional growth. Parker’s proposal was to execute a series of medium-scale murals in Ruskin as a collaborative piece, with participation open to community members and a specific target group from the South County Career Center.

“South County Career Center represents for all students an opportunity to achieve academically and to more forward toward a career of choice,” says Parker. “I chose this school to offer students a chance to work as a team on a community-based project and to reveal art as a potentially viable career choice.”

Mural by Michael Parker

Parker received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He studied painting in Cortona, Italy, through a program with the University of Georgia. Director and resident artist at the Big Draw Studio, he has taught at the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College and the University of Montana; received and earned a number of fellowships and residencies and held solo or group exhibitions at such venues as Tampa Museum of Art, Hillsborough Community College Gallery, Missoula Art Museum, Acadiana Center for the Arts and Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Acccording to Art Keeble, executive director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Parker was one of eight artists in the final round of judging. Criteria included:

– Impact of the artist or proposed project on the community
– Evidence of the artist’s commitment to personal artistic development
– The potential for the proposed project to contribute to the artist’s personal growth
– A realistic and well-defined budget
– The quality of the artist’s work samples

“We are pleased to join with Carolyn’s family in presenting this grant award,” says Keeble. “Michael is the type of artist Carolyn would have enjoyed and supported.”

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.

← Older posts

Shopping Basket