In an old Communication Workers Union building near Federal and Hampden sits what is positioned to be one of Denver’s newest art hubs. Local ceramic artists Shelley Schreiber and Peter Durst have worked hard to turn the old building into the new Continuum Art Studios, which hopes to provide a sanctuary for newly independent artists across the Denver metro area.
The space—which consists of 30 private studios for rent—houses large metalworking and ceramic workspaces full of the vital equipment these artists need. Members are free to use the facility’s many kilns, pottery wheels, polishing stations, and other equipment.
“We bought the building in 2020,” Schreiber said. “We’ve been working on this for a couple of years now, and we are just getting ready to bring people in.”
As the gentrification of areas like RiNo continues, an increasing number of art studios are closing and artists are losing their workspaces.
“Places like RiNo are losing their art studios, big time,” Schreiber said.
Staples of the Denver art scene, such as the Foreign Form, Waiting Room Gallery and Rhinoceropolis, have shut their doors in recent years. And Pattern Shop, RiNo’s oldest gallery, just shut down after 33 years.
“They’re turning everything into breweries. The property tax is so high that artists can’t be there, and a lot of art studios have shut down because of that,” Schreiber said.
Schreiber hopes that her new studio can help provide a spark to the local art community.
Before opening Continuum, Schreiber taught at the Art Students League of Denver for 16 years. A student approached her about opening a studio space, which had already been a long-time dream. Schreiber’s vision was to create a space that helps artists who are fresh out of school transition to the intimidating world of being an independent artist—a unique aspect that differentiates Continuum from the typical studio.
“More than fifteen years ago, I had a conversation with a woman from Boulder who is a ceramic artist, and we were just talking about [how] there’s a gap in what is available for artists in the Denver metro area,” Schreiber said.
Schreiber explained that the jump from being an art student to an independent artist is especially difficult. In school, students can go and ask professors any questions to get any help they may need with their work. When leaving school, these artists often lose these resources and support. This can lead to many newly independent artists feeling stuck and stranded, with no one to turn to. Continuum Art Studios works with local ceramic artists and jewelry makers during this transition period so they get the professional resources they need. Schreiber makes herself available to help artists who work in the studio with any questions they have.
“In private studios, unless it’s out of the goodness of the hearts of the people that are there, you need to know what you are doing. And if you don’t, it’s a really hard road to work,” she said. “Here, I make appointments with these [artists] and they’ll say, ‘I need to learn how to load a kiln.’ And I say ‘Okay, I’m going to walk you through it.’ I’m available every time after that when they need to go over it again.”
Schreiber has created an environment where people of varying skill levels can thrive in the space, whether they are fresh out of school or a displaced RiNo industry veteran.
“Our ultimate goal is to be a hopping community with artists so they have a place to go and people to work with,” Schreiber said. “While it’s a private space, I want it to be inclusive. I want to have a range of ages and a range of ethnic backgrounds. And I also obviously want a safe place for artists to work and thrive.”
Accomplishing all that Schreiber hopes to do is challenging, but she still remains optimistic about what the future holds.
“It’s a hard road, a really hard road. But it’s a worthwhile road,” she said. “I feel good about the people that we are bringing in and that they’re going to get something great out of this.”