Early life and education
She was born Carolyn Frohsin in Alexander City, Alabama in 1937. Her parents, Ralph and Frances, were the owners of the Alabama-based Frohsins Department Store. She attended H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College and studied art. She married lawyer Edward Heller in 1958.
Mid-life and career
Heller painted beyond canvas on easels, painting objects ranging from chairs to pool tables. She painted primarily in acrylic. Throughout the 1950s and 1970s, her work was heavily themed around flowers. In the 2000s, her paintings became more abstract, with her continued use of bold colors. It was during the 2000s when she started producing decorative arts. She designed jewelry and textiles, and also produced serigraphs. Her studio was located in her garage. She painted while watching television, with an affinity for adult animation. To sell her work, she hosted happy hour events at her house to entertain potential patrons and buyers. Patrons of Heller included Ronda Storms. She studied and worked closely with, Syd Solomon, Ida Kohlmeyer, and William Pachner.
Heller moved to Tampa, Florida, with Edward, in 1961. She quickly became involved in the arts community. She took classes at the University of South Florida and Tampa Museum of Art. She had four children with Edward: Alan, Emily, Janet, and Fran. After the children went to college, she became a full-time artist. They lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa. She lived in the neighborhood until her death.
In the late 1970s, Heller and Edward divorced.
Later life and legacy
In 1996, she joined the public art board of the Hillsborough Arts Council. She left the council in 2004. She was supporter of the Tampa AIDS Network, donating artworks to their fundraising auctions. She died in August 2011, of a blood clot, at Tampa General Hospital.
Approximately 150 works were held by Heller upon her death. The works are on display via an online gallery created by her family. Her family discovered a collection of never published prints in her house. A selection of the prints were loaned to a local community center to teach children about art appreciation. The Carolyn F. Heller Grant is awarded annually, in the memory of Heller, by the Hillsborough Arts Council.
- Pieces of a Dream, group show, 2009, University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida
- Retrospective, solo show, 2013, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida
- Hot Flashes, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida
- Tampa Stars, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System, Tampa, Florida
- Meacham, Andrew. "Carolyn Heller, artist and friend, leaves colorful legacy". Epilogue. Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Cabrera, Cloe. "Tampa artist was 'vibrant, full of life'". Local news. Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Exhibition pays tribute to Carolyn Heller". Community News. Tampa Bay Tribune. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Lohn, Anjuli. "Late artist's family uncovers hidden trove of prints". Bio. FOX 13 News. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Sheehan, Keeley. "Family of Carolyn Heller to share her art online, in museum exhibit". News. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Spencer, Camille. "Artist Receives Carolyn F. Heller Grant Award". News. South Tampa-Hyde Park Patch. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "'Pieces Of A Dream' Debuts Emerging Artists". South Tampa News. Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Tampa Stars". Culture Now. Retrieved 9 December 2013.