Thomas Evans, better known as Detour, paints his culture on large canvases, capturing portraits of modern pop stars in swirls of pure color, some of them interactive works that viewers can touch to release sounds. As an entrepreneur marketing his own work, Detour has generally bypassed galleries and shown his art in less-stuffy environments. But now that’s changing: Detour has two gallery shows coming up this summer, both indicative of new directions and content, though still full of street cred. We decided to check in with the artist, via the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Thomas Evans: There is actually an artist that I follow by the name of Taku Obata; he's a wood sculptor out of Korea. He creates stunning, life-sized hip-hop characters out of wood. They are unbelievable to see come to life. The emotions he gives these figures are unbelievable, and it makes me want to learn how to work with wood. He is someone I am going to definitely reach out to, because his mind just amazes me.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
This is probably unexpected, and I don’t know why this person calls out to me, but the writer/comedian Larry David is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever watched. I couldn't give you a solid reason why I would pick him over any other person, but he is the only person that I can’t take my eyes off of. I’ve loved his style of writing and comedy since the beginning of Seinfeld. I thought it was genius, and still think his comedy holds up today. Well, now that I think about it, it’s probably because of his Bernie Sanders impersonations. They’re awesome! I also feel the same way about Dave Chappelle. They both just have my full attention.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Well, I don’t think there's any trend out there right now that I want to see die off. Today artists have a plethora of sub-art communities to choose from, so I think all trends have a place to live. However, outside of art, I wouldn’t mind seeing anything dealing with a “selfie” die off.
What's your day job?
Art! I paint and promote my art all day, every day.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would definitely use the funds to promote and provide artistic opportunities and education throughout the world. After living in a village in Tanzania, I realized the extent to which art can have an effect on critical thinking, creative problem-solving and innovative ideas. I wish all kids would be able to have the opportunity to enjoy the arts regardless of their situation.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love it. I hope to keep loving it for years to come. The environment and the people are what made me fall in love with it. With so much development and changes on the horizon, I hope it still has some of the things that made me stay.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
I think the city could help support artists by providing a place dedicated to art education, research, teaching and utilizing resources. Imagine a place where you could learn to properly stretch a canvas and find a list of established print shops at the same time. This would be a game-changer for the city.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
In terms of creativity and being inspired, I would say Gamma Acosta. He never fails to amaze me with his work. The art he did on shipping containers made me lose my mind. He’s hands-down one of my favorites.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I have two upcoming shows. The first show is my photography show that involves African artifacts, photo shoots with models and DNA testing. The project was a blast, and the upcoming exhibition will showcase why everyone involved had a life-changing experience. This show opens June 30 at RedLine. The second show is a solo at Helikon Gallery at the beginning of August. It’s an extension of my work with roses and portraits that I’ve been doing on walls recently. This series is all about beauty. It will be my first gallery show with my brushwork, so I'm excited.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
There are three people I think are on their way to becoming major players in the art scene on a national scale. Gamma is one. I think he's a hidden gem, and it’s only a matter of time before his work gains the recognition it deserves. The other is the duo of Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina. The murals they create are always on-point and stunning. Their mural work is some of the best in the region, and keeps getting better. There is no way that they all won’t become stars in the art game.
They Still Live, a collaborative portrait project from Detour and photographer Tya Anthony that incorporates African art treasures from the Paul Hamilton collection, opens with a 6 p.m. reception on Thursday, June 30, and runs through July 17 at RedLine. Learn more about Detour online.