Sol casualty

“You should cover up with something; it smells pretty bad in there,” said Estella Sanchez, her face covered in a bandana, upon entering Sol Collective.

The smell of smoke hit just past the front door and grew stronger moving to the back of the indigenous street-art space at 2010 Del Paso Boulevard. Save for water damage visible on the walls, the front “stage” area appeared relatively unscathed. But the back of the rectangular space, where artists worked, was in complete ruins.

“Nathan Cordero. Skinner. Shaun Turner,” Sanchez said, trudging through the ashes and identifying each work space by the artist who created piles of artwork at the collective she co-founded, artwork that is now charred beyond recognition.

The Sacramento Fire Department responded to a commercial blaze raging shortly before 1 a.m. on March 19. Additional firefighters were called to the structure to successfully save adjoining businesses.

The fire appeared to have started in an outside storage area where a witness believed homeless people lived, according to Capt. Jim Doucette. No injuries were reported, and fortunately, no one was inside Sol Collective at the time.

“We all walked out of there after sifting through the wreckage stinking like mesquite,” collectivist Adam Saake told SN&R in an e-mail just hours after the fire. “It was unreal standing in that back space that I have spent two years of my life in and seeing nothing but black.”

Among the casualties was his “beloved vintage Ludwig drum set.” But Saake’s band, the New Humans, presses on (see “You mean heartless cyborgs?!” SN&R Music).

Sol Collective earned its reputation around town as a cool, open, versatile space. It hosted The Social, an all-ages spoken-word event on Wednesday nights. The recent Life, Death and Rebirth show presented a cornucopia of way-cool street art. This past December’s Kwanzaa Multicultural Circus Show featured jugglers, acrobats, “klowns” and various other kraziness.

Collectivists regularly raised funds for those in need, including troubled kids and a free medical clinic in Vietnam. They helped local teens paint murals and mount hip-hop shows.

But raising money for Sol Collective itself was always a problem. Ironically, a persistent lack of funds had already prompted plans to close in May. “It looks like fate had some quicker plans for us,” Saake said.

Sanchez is most distressed about the fate of a youth multimedia arts project that had been scheduled for March 30. Anyone with space available to donate for the show should call her at (916) 346-4960. Other Sol Collective donations gladly will be accepted through

Standing where she came in, Sanchez scanned the room one last time. “I’m not even sure if we are going to be able to come back in the community down here.”