Former Spiva Executive Director passes away after cancer battle


SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — A longtime Four States art advocate has passed away.

Jo Mueller was the Executive Director of the Spiva Center for The Arts in Joplin for nearly 12-years before retiring from that post in 2015. She’s credited with expanding Spiva’s membership base, community outreach programming, educational classes – as well as growing Spiva into a regional gallery and gift shop.

Prior to her retirement, she received several awards, including the Joplin Chamber’s Arty Award in 2014 – and the Missouri Arts Council Leadership Award in 2016. Interim Director Susan Adams says Mueller will be missed by all who knew her.

Susan Adams, Interim Director, Spiva Center For the Arts, said, “Just the most gracious person, made everyone feel welcome, if you were an amateur artist or a well recognized master artist, she celebrated your work, she made you feel proud of your work, and she welcomed everyone into Spiva.”

Mueller passed away Sunday at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer. Adams says she was involved in a host of other area organizations – and was a driving force behind the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex in Joplin, which is now under construction.

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