This little Colorado mountain town has an incredible history, and a historic artscene. The downtown area is filled with various galleries and sculptures off the sidewalks. There is even a historical society museum located in an authentic old homesteader cabin from the 1880’s. It is within walking distance from historic Main Street. There are teaching centers for painting and clay on the Main Street that are very popular, too.
Mt. Sopris Historical Museum
The mission statement for this lively place reads, Our mission is to promote history education, specifically the history of the Roaring Fork and Crystal River Valleys, to preserve historical landmarks, and to provide a gathering place for residents, visitors, students and researchers in a setting that is both historical and warmly welcoming.
The cabin that hosts the museum has displays of mining, agriculture, cowboys, trains and the home. There is another part of the museum that is the library (including old handwritten journals of items like receipts, or ledgers, and postcards from 100 or so years ago). A few Ute Indian artifacts (corn grinding stone) are there, too.
A great education theme is prevalent. One program offered is the Junior Docent training for high school students. They learn to serve as museum guides and more. Younger children can practice breadmaking and other culinary arts during the summer. For more information see Mt. Sopris Historical Society.
Of course, for an even greater historical insight is the mastodon dig going on in nearby Snowmass.
The Carbondale Clay Center offers a residency program, visiting artists workshops, classes for adults and children, and gallery exhibitions and sales. The ceramic art programs are very popular, and really fun. I notice that there is a tile making workshop coming up that sounds really promising. The mission vision is, Our Vision: Carbondale Clay Center welcomes all to explore the art of ceramics, from the casually curious to the established artist. Clay is a universal language connecting us to people, cultures and world history. Knowledge of ceramic processes is shared through class and workshop offerings, residencies, lectures, gallery exhibits, and programs that reach out to schools and special groups. The Center is committed to a learning environment that is supportive and exciting.
Here is the website for the Carbondale Clay Center for more information.
Kahhak Fine Arts & School
Majid Kahhak is the artist and founder of this unusual institution “where magic occurs regularly.” He is a most talented artist of many facets. He teaches painting, hosts poetry readings, and conducts workshops among other things.
Everytime I have visited the gallery there is something going on that is worth noting, even if I am just viewing the current exhibit. The gallery/school is located right on Main Street, easy to find, and always a friendly face to greet. Do stop in if you visit Carbondale. See this for more information.
Third Street Center
A few blocks from Main Street is the Third Street Center or known as PAC3 (Performing Arts Center on 3rd St.). It is an excellent use of an old school building with many different rooms. It is non-profit and for profit and has 5000 square feet used for multi-use events. There are several artist studios inside including the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklorico.
Another venue offered in the old school gymnasium is for music. A schedule of performing musicians from June 3rd thru Sept. 9th looks terrific. The tickets range in price from $12.00 to $40.00 depending on purchase time (advanced or day of). There is a burlesque show mixed in, so the venue is keeping to the word performance!
Free Outdoor Summer Concerts
Most of the free concerts take place at Sopris Park or the 4th St. Plaza at 7 pm beginning in June. The icon - Mount Sopris - simply glorifies the outdoor “theatre’ which is a lovely park downtown. It is a beautiful vista for enjoying rockin music for all. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on, and even dance if so moved. It’s just a great offering in a gorgeous, dynamic setting.
Thunder River Theatre Company
TRTC bills itself as “Professional theatre at its finest.” I heartily agree! It is located in the downtown area on the Red Brick Walkway (there is only one so you can’t miss it!). Not only does this fabulous entertainment center offer professional theatre, but it hosts cultural events with exciting speakers like Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., American literary critic, speaking about genealogy. Theatre classes for adults and kids are offered, and a theatre camp for kids too.
This room is “a great place to play and listen to live music and is ideal for both performers and the audience.” The room is in the historic Dinkel building that has a a vault behind it since it was in the old Westdays, a bank. Thick walls and high ceilings make for great acoustics in the relatively small area. Live music and other community events are held there.
No smoking is allowed, yet it is allowable to bring in your own beverage of choice to this house-concert type setting. Music lovers of all ages mix, and the entertainers are up close and personal! I have seen comedians, and musicians there and for $10.00 it is a great deal.
According to their website, the best way to communicate with them is through email.
There is a co-ed private high school called Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale that helped to bring a famous blacksmith artist here. A quote from wikipedia explains: “Arts at CRMS have a distinctive history as well. The Adobe Arts Building, a campus landmark built by faculty and students, dates to 1962, and the Whitaker Forge—the nation’s only high school blacksmithing program—was established (and run for 13 years) by Frances Whitaker, one of the 20th century’s most renowned blacksmiths. Students’ paintings, sculpture, silversmithing, and more rotate through regular displays in primary buildings.” His blacksmith art adorns many buildings throughout the United States.
To say the least, blacksmithing is alive and well in Carbondale. There is a co-op with 5 artist blacksmiths (Roaring Forge LLC), a shop with handcrafted quality using traditional smithing when possible (Blue Heron Forge), and a metal artist craftsman (Michael Lindsay Sculpture & Design) among some of the choices to check out.
Enjoy a visit to a unique, friendly town with a great art scene!