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Artists lose home studio, work in Marshall Fire

Madhouse Art Collective in Superior is among countless home-based businesses destroyed by the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The Superior Chamber of Commerce said a number of home-based businesses are gone as a result of the Marshall Fire.  

The loss is doubly hard for families who lost not only their homes but also their source of income. 

Michael A. Dempsey founded MAD House Art Collective out of his home in Superior. The space was used for him to collect, curate and sell artwork of local artists. It also became a shared space for artists to work and create.  

Both the studio and his home, shared with fellow artists, were destroyed in the Marshall Fire on Thursday.  

Dempsey managed to grab about 10 paintings with the help of a friend. It represents only a fraction of his more than 100 piece art collection that caught fire.  

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“The losses, I haven’t even started itemizing because it is just so traumatic to think through the number of things that were pieces of my heart that I collected because they had inspired me so much," Dempsey said. "They had brought so much joy and love into my life. It’s tragic that they are lost."

His next door neighbor Andrew Norris Thompson managed to save about four of his paintings. He lost about 30 works-in-progress and nine completed works that burned along with the home he shared with his girlfriend.  

The ones that he managed to save, he called “the most precious.”  

One has a heart on it and Norris Thompson said it’s symbolic of his works and the love he puts behind them.  

“I think it’s very symbolic, I would say,” said Norris Thompson. “My heart is my gift to the world, and it’s a big part of who I am, and the heart is obviously a symbol of that.”  

Norris Thompson used the studio on Dempsey’s property as a place to work and create.  

“I put a lot of time and energy and money into refurbishing the garage and making it my studio space,” said Norris Thompson. “I’m going to miss it for sure.”  

The space was designed for collaboration and creativity for those in the art world, but the space is now gone. Dempsey said it’s unlikely a similar space with the same kind of energy could be recreated.  

Both have plans to continue their artwork though and Dempsey plans to rebuild his studio, even if it isn’t in the same location.  

“As much as it is painful and traumatic, it’s a bit of exciting personally just to move forward," Norris Thompson said. "Of course, we are going to mourn all the things that we lost, but we still have each other and those moments getting out of town. 

"Those will live with me forever. And I can’t wait to get in front of a canvas to harness that energy."

Another artist also lived in the house with Dempsey, Radek Selski. Fellow artist Sean Tanner also helped them take out paintings from the home before it burned.  

If you would like to support any of them, they have GoFundMe’s available. Click their names to go to their fundraising sites: Michael Dempsey, Andrew Norris Thompson, Radek Selski and Sean Tanner.  

You can check out their artwork by visiting their Instagram pages: @mad.house_art, @andrew.Norris.art and @artsyafpodcast. 

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