Sunday, August 28, 2011

Local Artist Leaves Legacy

TAMPA — Carolyn Heller painted the world around the way she lived, boldly and with bright colors.

She painted stars and the moon, fish and flowers, ladybugs and martinis. She painted a chair for Ronda Storms and a pool table for another customer, complete with legs that looked like palm trees and a Key West theme on the sides. She painted purses and bar stools, aprons and ice buckets and watering cans, shoe bags and tote bags.

Most famously, Ms. Heller transformed art sales into multi-purpose entertainment in her South Tampa townhouse. Browsers at an annual happy hour art sale met a large woman with a big laugh and a Southern accent as distinct as sorghum, who used terms like "fabulous" or "kick a---" to describe the things she liked and who expressed disapproval with similar gusto.

Ms. Heller, one of Tampa's most recognizable artists, died Monday as the result of a blood clot. She was 74

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