Q&A with Angela Bruno, Carbondale Clay Center

Q&A with Angela Bruno, Carbondale Clay Center

Angela Bruno took over as executive director of the Carbondale Clay Center in 2017 after serving as interim director since late 2014. After growing up in Glenwood Springs, Bruno left the area but returned in 2009. She's a painter, sculptor and ceramic artist herself, and serves on the council of the Carbondale Creative District.

Confluence Denver: Tell us about the Carbondale Clay Center.

Angela Bruno: We're a nonprofit organization. It started in 1997 with founding director Diane Kenney. She had a studio at her house and was doing lessons out of there, but so many people were interested she couldn't accommodate it anymore.

They found this building on Main Street, same location as now. We do children's camps, after-school programming, adult classes and workshops and community outreach.

We have two-full time employees, 10 contract teachers at any given time and a residency program. We have typically two to three residents. They come for a year, develop a body of work, and have a solo show here. We have a really active galley with a new exhibition opening each First Friday.

CD: Why is Carbondale a hub for creatives? And how would you describe the Carbondale Creative District?

AB: It's beautiful. For artists, the draw would be that there are already so many artists here and people really embrace creative endeavors.

Even though it's expensive to live here -- housing is really tight -- it's also a challenge to establish yourself fully as an artist. But there's so much natural beauty and community support and encouragement, I think people find that challenge rewarding.

There's a lot of collaboration going on for sure. We all want to help each other. When they benefit, we benefit, and vice versa.

I don't think we're a huge tourist destination. It's kind of mellow even though we're between all these big resort towns. I'm biased, I guess, but Carbondale is a pretty amazing place.

CD: How do creative people get past the high cost of living?

AB: It's a hustle, you know? People work a lot, like several jobs. 

The challenge we have with the residency program is we charge a modest rent for studios, but to have someone relocate here, work, pay to live and pay studio rent is not very feasible anymore. So we were able to get it funded for three years, so they don't have to pay anything to be here. 

Our resident now works 30 hours outside of the Clay Center, and then she's here the rest of the time. I mean, it's a hustle.