Thomas "Detour" Evans has been painting nonstop these past few weeks — using his murals to mark the tragedies of these historic times.
With Hiero Veiga, he's put murals of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain, all victims of police violence, on walls around town, and he's also painted an Aurora Public Schools teacher on the wall of RedLine Contemporary.
Now he's busy working on a mural in memory of Isabella Thallas, the 21-year-old woman who was murdered on June 10 near Coors Field. Thallas was the girlfriend of Darian Simon, the co-founder of Be a Good Person, who has collaborated with Evans on murals and other projects.
Simon and Thallas were on a walk when a man reprimanded them about how they were training their dog, then opened fire from his apartment. She was murdered, and Simon was shot twice. On June 16, the Denver District Attorney charged 36-year-old Michael Close with first-degree murder, among several other crimes.
Grief rippled through Denver's arts community as people wrestled with the senselessness of Thallas's death. Evans's painting is the first public art created in her memory.
The mural is going up on the wall of Leon Gallery, at East 17th Avenue and Park Avenue West. Friends and family of Thallas came to Leon to watch the artist at work today, June 16.
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Evans, who has established himself as one of the luminaries of the Denver art world, has used portraiture to honor historical figures and community members, confront history and imagine a better future. Full of purples, oranges and reds, his portraits are often moody but hopeful.
While he's best known for his depictions of the famous and influential — David Letterman, Jay-Z and 2Pac, to name a few — he's recently focused on everyday people whose lives ended in tragedy; he has been depicting them staring forward, somber, at once reflecting and judging a society that allows such violence to occur.
Evans's creative fury is a reflection of the brutal times we're living in — and while his work is about people whose lives were destroyed by the worst tendencies of humanity, he also honors the beauty and possibilities of life, even when it ends too soon.