Carl Heldt was born in 1925 and grew up on a farm in rural Stanford, Ill. His interest in art surfaced at an early age. By the time he was nine, he was sketching cattle in the field, painting scenes on the doors in his mother's kitchen and constructing colorful tissue paper mosaics to give an ordinary window in his one-room schoolhouse the look of stained glass.
Heldt graduated from high school at the height of World War II and joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 to train as a pilot. After his discharge he enrolled at the University of Illinois where he graduated with a BFA in painting in 1950. Commissions to create mobiles for Chicago's Merchandise Mart led to large-scale projects, including a 10-foot
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