CAROLYN FROHSIN HELLER
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. Beginning with print-making, wood-cuts and acrylics on canvas, she expanded into mixed-media on fabric, furniture and other everyday items. She crafted jewelry and silk scarves. In every context, her work was sensual and full of energy.
An Alabama native, Carolyn studied fine arts at Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans and continued her training at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she lived for more than 50 years. She also studied at the Tampa Museum of Art. She was drawn to the abstract, its free form and vibrancy in artists she admired, such as Ida Kohlmeyer, Elaine de Kooning, Syd Solomon and other abstract expressionists.
Later in life, Carolyn looked to the natural, tropical world for inspiration. Her intention was irreverent and flirtatious: fruit, flowers and insects were depicted with elegance and humor. She gave her fish sly expressions and bright lipstick. She endowed her blushing pears with full-figured rear ends. Her wide-ranging works are held in private and public collections across the United States and have been featured in galleries, art shows and exhibitions in Florida and the Southeast.
She was passionate about gardening and public art. She was a long-serving member of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, which funds cultural services. She also helped establish the county’s Public Art Committee, which selects and purchases artwork for public display. She was also a human rights advocate. In 1997, the Tampa AIDS Network commissioned her to create its annual signature piece of art for its Art for Life benefit.
Carolyn’s family seeks to honor her memory in an online gallery, permanently exhibiting works from her collection.