Culture News

Fire Guts Ashley Macias and Yai Cecream's Art Studio in Phoenix

Phoenix artists Ashley Macias and Yai Cecream suffered a significant loss of artwork in a fire that happened at their shared studio space, located behind the home of Michael Davin at 914 West Willetta Street, earlier this week. 

The artists are staples of the local arts scene. They’ve shown work at numerous Phoenix art venues, including The Hive gallery and Palabra, and painted several murals in downtown Phoenix.

“It was a pretty bad fire,” Macias says. “It’s just wet and toasted and black.” 

The fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. on Monday, August 22, Davin says. His girlfriend, Samantha Cheatham, awoke to the sound of the fire crackling, he says, and they immediately called 911. 

It's one of two fires that have affected Phoenix's arts community this week. Two days later, a fire happened shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, August 24, at Think! Graphic and Printing Solutions. It's located near Roosevelt Row, just a few miles east of Cecream and Macias' studio. 

The Phoenix Fire Department hasn't publicly released any details about a likely cause for either fire. 

Macias and Cecream live near the studio, but they weren’t working there at the time it caught fire. They learned of the fire when Davin, who has lived in the main house for several years, called and left a voicemail with the news. 

The artists returned earlier this summer from visiting Cecream’s family in Spain, and had just moved artwork and supplies back into the space a few weeks ago. For a time, artist Tyson Krank had his studio at the same property. Macias estimates that at least 90 percent of what they had there was lost to the flames.

For Macias, that included years of sketchbooks. For Cecream, it included about a dozen new works. “It’s all of our history,” Macias says of the loss. “It’s everything we ever painted, which sucks.”

“We cried it out,” Macias says of getting the news. “We’re sad and heartbroken."

There’s not much they can do at this point, Macias says. And it’s too soon to know where they’ll find a new studio space. Right now, they’re focused on helping Davin, who says he can't go in to clean the space until he's dealt with details like doing an inventory of objects that were damaged or destroyed, which also included some of his own tools and other items.

At some point, Macias and Cecream will need to replenish their supplies and find a new place to create, but they’re likely to get help along the way. “A lot of people have offered us space,” Macias says.

For now, Macias is framing the fire as giving them a clean slate.

“We’re just grateful we have the community,” she says. “We don’t need anything but love and support.”

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble