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Andrea Mueller on the art of popping up

ART POP opens its doors with studio space and retail in Creekside
Whistler painter Andrea Mueller’s new pop-up studio and retail space is now open in Creekside.


When Andrea Mueller first moved to Whistler two decades ago, she worked above Chili Thom’s Creation Station, a creative studio space in Function Junction.

Fresh out of the Ontario College of Art and Design, watching the (late) beloved local talent make a living out of art had a profound impact on her.

“It was the first time I had seen someone living as an artist, being themselves as a ‘crazy artist’ and actually living that lifestyle, making money from that,” Mueller says. “It was a very big influence for me to see him doing that and, to be really honest, it was one of the things that inspired me to keep going with art.”

While she doesn’t necessarily feel it, Mueller—voted Whistler’s favourite artist in Pique’s Best of Whistler more than once—has since transitioned from emerging to established artist in the local scene.

Now, with a new bright, bold pop-up studio/workshop/store installed in Creekside for the next six months, she hopes to influence the incoming generation of young artists as well.

“I want to show other young people that might be thinking, ‘I can’t do [this],’ you can. You have to work for it, but you can do it,” she says.

ART POP—an admittedly less self-promotional but more fun name than the Andrea Mueller Gallery—officially opened its doors on Dec. 1 at 321-2063 Lake Placid Rd.

It has a space for workshops—like Mueller’s paint nights and kids’ classes as well as events hosted by other local artists and artisans—and a studio space, on top of a retail section filled with art and merch, hers and others, like House of Commune clothing, hats by the Madhatress and jewelry by Birds and Bees, to name a few.

Mueller’s new craft kits for kids and families will also be for sale.

“The whole retail area, that’s something that was surprising to people,” she adds. “It’s 100-per-cent a really good-looking store. It’s not a messy, creative space.”

She also put a lot of planning into creating a colourful, unique, whimsical space.

“It has bright, fun, weird elements to it. I wanted to do something that’s opposite to what’s been happening decor-wise lately. There’s been a lot of neutrality in home decor and now people are frightened of colour,” she says. “I wanted to make a space I feel happy in, whether I’m making something that’s happy or not in terms of my own artwork. I’m creating something that has a vibrant, exciting energy to it. When I go there, I feel happy.”

The space marks Mueller’s second studio in Creekside. Back in 2019 she was working in a temporary spot and got to know employees who work for the owners of the Creekside retail space.

When another shop came up for a six-month lease, she decided it was just short enough to be worth the risk, but long enough to settle into something cool.

The unconventional setup is something Whistler could use more of, she says.

“We’re so afraid in society to let people do things,” Mueller says. “So many people have these awesome track records, they’re invested in the community, and have a great reputation. But they don’t have insane family backing of money. They’re not wealthy people. It doesn’t mean they’re trying less or have bad ideas. I think there should be a municipal program where empty spaces are used by reputable people to pop up for six months or a year … If we’re going to promote local and encourage our local economy, that’s a great way to give people an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

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