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 sculpture for the Marquette Medical Center and a 110-foot metal mural for the Kahler Hotel Hemisphere Room in the Rochester, MN home of the Mayo Clinic.
When the University of Illinois invited him to join their art faculty in 1956, Heldt accepted, and began a 35-year career in academic art, most of it spent as art professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where Heldt and his family relocated in 1961. Heldt painted during this period, often working into the early morning hours. His abstract series of multi-layered impastos won acclaim for their bold compositions and radiating color. Summer breaks from teaching were spent at Hallmark's headquarters in Kansas City where Heldt became the company's artist-in-residence.
His evolution as an artist has never followed a predictable line, and Heldt's early work bears little resemblance to what he does today. "What I do and what media I work in depends entirely on the reality of the moment," he says.
For Heldt, now a Professor Emeritus of Art, the reality of the moment is found-wood sculptures that explore the realm of Abstract Expressionism. His three-dimensional compositions are fused with geometrics and texture that come from arrangements of salvaged wood and architectural cast-offs. A baluster from a stairway, a spindle leg from a chair, a croquet ball, drawer runner, or remnant of a tabletop all come to life again in Heldt's compositions.
Heldt's 36" x 36" and 22" x 22" wood murals from found objects are distinguished by their potential for interchangeability. The panels can be displayed alone or arranged in near endless combinations making them evolving entities in a home, office or building.
Heldt's art is owned by more than 50 public institutions and 200 private collections throughout North America. He and his wife make their home in the foothills of Tucson, AZ, where he remains active creating wood assemblages in his home studio.
Information courtesy of the artist.