Anne Mueller

Written by: Allison Burke and Liam Kantor

anne muellerAnne Mueller is a painter in the city of Holyoke, MA. Her absolute passion in life is painting. She loves it for its therapeutic effects. She’s always working on a piece or she’s teaching art classes and giving private lessons. Anne was trained traditionally in drawing and painting at Western Carolina University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts. She does work on a range of different mediums from water color painting to oil painting, to restoration and set design – she is very versatile and skilled.


“My main goal in life is to paint.” She commissions and paints for own sake and does shows to showcase her own work, but not currently. Anne’s always working on painting, however. She teaches for added income and didn’t set out to do it, but she ended up really enjoying it.

History In Holyoke

Anne’s lived in MA since 1976 and came here from North Carolina because of her husband’s job. She started in Holyoke teaching art classes at the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, which was called the Holyoke Information Center back then, and has worked there for 30 years. She currently works there and at the Holyoke Senior Center, but she’s taught in other places such as other places Agawam High, Holyoke Community College, and runs private lessons through her own studio.

Anne actually came upon her studio in Holyoke because one of her students and her husband bought a Victorian-style house in Holyoke to run a small animal sanctuary clinic in, and they gave her the upstairs to rent for her studio. She’s had that studio since 2000 and it’s where she started her business teaching her private classes.


Anne likes all kinds of art. She can do just about everything and has been exposed to just about everything because of how she was trained. Also, because of that, she doesn’t have one specific influence, but a lot of influences. A lot of artists- Andrew Wias – he wasmentor she likes his style.

Whom does their product benefit? Who are their customers?

Students – a lot of students from all walks of life. Some of Anne’s students do their own art shows, some paint as a hobby, some are more professional. She teaches a very large range of age groups. In one of her classes currently she has a 14 year old girl and her mother, while in another she has a man in his late 80s. There are people who travel who as far as Vermont and Connecticut for her classes. She’s taught doctors, nurses, other teachers… some people paint for the therapeutic effect. When her students bring their pieces to class, she likes to push them do more outside comfort zone and better their paintings.

Clients – People mostly hear of her by word of mouth and want to buy paintings and commissions. She’s currently doing work for a client right now where she is editing/taking something out of a huge canvas painting in her studio.

Redeveloping the City of Holyoke

Years ago in the 80s Holyoke had a thriving art scene. She remembers specifically the popularity of the Canal Gallery. There used to be great parties there as well. Years ago she and her boss started an art bus tour and took people to museums and art trips around the area. After her boss left Holyoke, they stopped doing that. Going to change to loft apartments and small businesses.

She notices that Holyoke is trying to get this art scene back now.

She likes the quote she heard from the Mayor of North Hadem “where your artists are, people will come.” She believes this rings true and that where artists are, small businesses will develop and the city will grow, and that her business and art classes will do this for the city of Holyoke.

She’s able to draw artists into Holyoke with her classes, and Holyoke Community college plays a big part in exposing her to new artists. She works through Creative Arts, but hasn’t done a lot promoting for Holyoke art other than the work she does promoting her art herself.

Not in the Gateway City, able to draw people into Holyoke with classes. Creative arts is moving around, and shrunk down, but they’re still drawing in people. Holyoke Community college is involved and the artists there are involved.

Scope/Success Story

Anne believes she’s known mostly regionally, but she has done work for clients in Greece. She designed a metal for them. She has done pieces for a company called Hampshire Commercial, which is national and pinnacles in England. Also, before she moved to Mass she did some work in Charleston. You can come across her work fairly easily in Western MA, however. She has a painting in the Delaney House Restaurant in Holyoke, in the Fire House in South Hadley, and 3 in the Holyoke Senior Center. She most known around here, however, for her series of paintings of vanishing family farms in MA. These paintings really got her name out there. There was a whole movement about saving and restoring the old 1800s farm houses, which she became very involved with. She even gave lectures and presentations around the area on the importance of saving them and was named Spirit of the Bay State in 1990 by Channel 40. She liked doing that preservation and history-related work and wants to write a book on it. She wants to do work like this that has an impact.

Artist, Innovator, Entrepreneur, or Cultureprenuer?

Anne thinks of herself as a combination of an artist, innovator, entrepreneur, and cultureprenuer. She started her own business, she’s does restoration and preservation work for old farms in North Hadley, she consults clients on color choices when painting or even designing, and she also consults clients on business issues like starting one’s own business.

Advice to others who are trying to follow a similar path

To people who want to pursue a career in painting, Anne says: “Once they start painting, it changes their life; opens their eyes to the world around them and gets them to see things they never noticed before. It’s a very eye opening art, and addicting.” Art is very important — keeps her aware.

Unique Struggle

Later in her life, Anne developed a condition called Optic neuritis, which caused her to lose sight in her left eye. There’s no known cure or treatment for it, so she has to deal with it on a daily basis, and she can still paint and teach. Since she’s mastered painting with her impaired vision, she actually feels that now she is painting better than ever and can spot imperfections right away. She feels that the traditional training she received to be an artist caused her to see a certain way and develop skills that has helped her go about everyday life with this condition now. Thus, she’s thankful for her job.