photo by Harper Speagle-Price

Artist of the Month: Ashley Macias

Written by Jackie Dishner Category: Arts Issue: November 2018
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The self-taught surrealist dreams of designing murals in Phoenix.

“As a child, I’d watch cartoons and draw… I couldn’t do just one thing,” says self-taught surrealist artist Ashley Macias, 29, illustrating her words with pen on paper while being interviewed.

The black pen flows fluidly from point to point. A hummingbird head appears on the page, feathers next, a carnation, a tiny human figure in black, a teardrop, bean shapes, lines in all directions, a repeating pattern of arrows and eyes. It swiftly merges together into one manic sketch, an outpouring of her innermost thoughts.

“I always start with the eye… the window to the soul… I’ll float three eyes on the page, a triangle. They act as the focal point or guide,” says Macias, who favors drawing on the spot at a coffee-house or locking herself in a room to paint, sometimes for three days straight.

Most every gallery and coffeeshop on Roosevelt Row has showcased the work of the California-born, Tucson-raised artist, who graduated high school in Phoenix and now has a home in Tempe. Her latest piece is a large-scale mural that wraps around the inside walls of the reincarnated Paz Cantina. “I was allowed to paint whatever I wanted, as long as it wasn’t Day of the Dead,” she says. So she (and a collaborator known as Volar) spray-painted a colorful alebrije lurking in flowering leaves. The mystical creature – hers a horned, wolflike figure with several pairs of eyes – represents the influence of her recent visit to paint in Mexico City, a place she calls magical. She says she’s ready to paint there again, and also in Los Angeles.

But her ultimate dream is to see the illustrations from her sketchbooks become grand, colorful murals in Phoenix. She wonders, “What can I get away with here?”

Find her work on Instagram: @ashleymacias_.