Artist Mueller honored with the
O.C. Arts Association's highest award
The former middle school teacher creates folk art
LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2021) – Mixed media artist Robbie Mueller recently received the highest honor awarded by the Arts Association of Oldham County. He was recognized by his peers for his achievements in what he labels “contemporary folk art.”
On Nov. 11, Mueller, 65, was given the Arts Association’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. “I feel very honored to have received this award,” said Mueller. His wife, Mary, had told Mueller he was going to receive some type of award but kept him in the dark about the details.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said. Held at The Gallery at Gatewood on Main Street in La Grange, Mueller said the event was attended by about 110 people and included friends, family and former teachers he had taught with over the years. “It was a reunion of sorts. I was very touched by the people who came and supported an event for the AAOC and came out in support of me.”
Mueller said he was a little mystified as to why he was chosen but assumed it had to do with “the longevity of my involvement in the programs, art shows and events,” of the Arts Association. He has not only participated as a local artist in Arts Association events, but been a member of the board for a decade and is the current secretary.
Photo courtesy of Ann Stroth
Brenda Marks, executive director of the Arts Association of Oldham County, is pictured with Robbie Mueller at the Nov. 11 awards party held in La Grange, Ky.
“Robbie was the board’s choice for this award,” said Ann Stroth, Arts Association president. “He is the perfect person to exemplify the AAOC mission of bringing the arts to Oldham County.” The award presented to Mueller was handcrafted by fellow juried Arts Association member and Gallery 104 artist Ann Klem, a nationally recognized and accomplished glass artist.
He was humbled by the fact that Klem made the award. “Ann and I are good friends. She said she wanted to supply the award.”
Klem said, “Creating the piece was my creation, born of a sketched idea. It is fused and slumped glass and represents the pathways we take in life.” She plans to create similar awards for the next few years for the Arts Association.
Jim Cheski, the Arts Association’s vice president, said Robbie was chosen to receive the award “as he is one of AAOC’s premier artists who, over a long period of time, has contributed countless hours toward the success of the organization.” He went on to say, Mueller has served on the Arts on the Green, Fall Arts Show and Gallery 104 show committees, “spending hours of physical labor setting up the shows as well as exhibiting his popular artwork. He supported the Arts Association’s fundraising activities beyond the normal scope of member involvement. He is an exceptionally gifted folk artist.”
The keynote speaker for the evening was André Kimo Stone Guess, president and CEO of Fund for the Arts in Louisville. A native Louisvillian, Guess has more than 20 years of experience in the arts sector, working with arts organizations and individual artists. For more than 14 years, he has owned and operated a management consulting firm, GuessWorks Inc.
Originally from Louisville, Mueller earned a degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. His artwork began with a love of crafting furniture that slowly evolved into a passion for creating folk art.
Mueller moved to Oldham County in the late 1970s. After 28 years of being an elementary and middle school teacher, he retired to devote his time to building and selling primitive farmhouse-style reproduction pieces. It wasn’t long before he was creating accent pieces such as carved chickens and crows as his passion for creating art began to take shape.
Photo courtesy of Ann Stroth
Andre Kimo Stone Guess, CEO of the Louisville Fund for the Arts, was the guest speaker at the event.
Mueller said, “The creative process begins as I observe the things around me. I work in a lot of different mediums.” His primary choices are acrylic paints, 3-D sculpture, bas reliefs and assemblages created with wood, paper mache, and found objects. “I consider myself a contemporary mixed media folk artist.”
Mueller is a juried member of the Kentucky Crafted Artist Program. A former member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsman, he was featured in its 50th Anniversary Album. In January 2012, Kentucky Educational Television aired a segment about Mueller and his folk art on “Bluegrass & Backroads.”
“Robbie is a talented artist teaching his craft to the students of Oldham County, an AAOC Board Member, Gallery 104 juried artist, member of Kentucky Crafted and a volunteer for anything required for the success of AAOC,” said Stroth.
“When I first desired to become involved in the AAOC, I saw it as an avenue to have a pathway to sell my art and get involved with an organization that would allow me to do so,” he said. His involvement has also enabled him to “take art into the schools and teach classes at Gallery 104. I hope to do so again.”
COVID-19 regulations have suspended the latter, but Mueller said he wants to be able to share his craft with others in the future in any way possible.
Along with other members of the Arts Association, his artwork is displayed in Gallery 104 in La Grange. Mueller also completes a lot of commissioned work. “I enjoy doing it,” he said.
Creating a unique and personalized piece of art brings satisfaction to both Mueller and his client. Sabina Schilling of Bovine, Texas, wrote on a posting on his website that she had asked Mueller “to make a gift for my husband similar to another piece that he had made.” Having never met Schilling’s husband, Mueller “took the time to find a picture of him. The gift took on a whole new meaning when I received it, and the face was a wonderful likeness of my husband. The experience couldn’t have been better.”
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