Oct. 15, 2011

Jay Kim

Most would consider a surprise donation in itself a blessing. But finding over a dozen pieces of undiscovered artwork by a local artist inside of the building after a surprise donation to the Heller Center made it that much better.

“They found a cache of sculptures and ceramics we knew existed from pictures but had never seen the actual piece,” said Perrin Cunningham, director of the Heller Center.

The artwork of the building’s namesake, Larry Heller, was found late last month when workers opened the attic crawl space of the Heller guesthouse, after an anonymous donation funded the start renovation project.

Heller gained local fame for many reasons, especially for his set design and character acting work at the Alexander Film Company Studios, his unique art and his willingness to try new things.

Painting, bronze sculptures, tile art, pottery, photography and metal were some of the painting styles that Heller embraced. His art medium wasn’t the only thing that set him apart from other artists.

On the Heller website, it boasts that “Heller transcended the artistic fashion of his day and pursued his own unique, whimsical vision…his paintings were anything but highbrow.”

Heller owned the house from 1930 until 1999. In May 1997, the property was deeded to the CU Board of Regents, which envisioned using it for an art studio, classes, retreats, conferences and exhibits showcasing Heller’s art.

The Heller House, which is north of the Four Diamond Sports complex on Austin Bluffs and Academy, was founded in 2002 but officially opened in 2004.

Formerly known as Yawn Valley, the property was modified a little to follow regulations and law, but for the most part “maintaining its original design and historical spirit,” according to Ron Fitz’s “Communique” article.
Heller House is open for the public viewing.

Anyone who is interested in seeing the art of Larry Heller can visit its new address, 1250 North Campus Heights, or email Cunningham, the director of the Heller Center for Arts and Humanities, at pcunning@uccs.edu.