Paintings you can Touch and Hear - Artist Spotlight Thomas “Detour” Evans


In this new monthly feature get to know visual artists in their own words. As a spin on the “artist statement” we will present a brief profile where each artist shares their journey, creative process, and inner thoughts and visions.

Thomas Detour Evans, KDOT, 2015.jpg

 We are proud to launch with Thomas “Detour” Evans. While most art is meant not to be touched, Evans creates paintings that he wants you to tap into, literally. In a series dubbed Art and Decibels, the 30-year-old emerging artist has created interactive paintings that when tapped at designated touch points emit music.

The Denver, Co-based artist applies electric paint over dark areas of his paintings, which act as the touch points. From there he collaborates with local musical talent, such as multi-instrumentalist producer Felix Fast4ward, to create beats that are installed on the painting's circuit boards. On average each painting has 12 touch points, each one delivering a unique sound. It is part of his approach to bridge the worlds of art, music, and the viewer.

You can view his artwork at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, TN beginning Friday July 17 in the exhibition, “Stax: Visions of Soul.” [Full disclosure: writer serves as curator of the exhibition]

Thomas Detour Evans, Nasir Jones, 2015.jpg

Artist Statement: Detour As told to…Souleo

I was born in Dayton, Ohio and I first started exploring visual arts during my elementary school years. I used to draw Ninja Turtles in class and sell them to the other students for a dollar. I then found myself focusing on faces when I started high school.

After that I attended business school and held a job as an events/marketing coordinator. I also worked briefly at an advertising agency. At the time I wasn't thinking of doing art full-time. I had everything in place to make the move but the fear of failure paralyzed me.  

But that all changed when I did an eight-month volunteer project in Tanzania for the nonprofit, Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania. I was able to break outside of my comfort zone and travel to a place that was totally foreign to me in terms of culture, language, and norms. I had a chance to evaluate where I wanted to go in life. I wanted to live my life being extraordinary. I didn't want to die average or not pushing my potential. It was one of those times in life that I had to decide whether to take the leap or not because at that point, if I didn’t, I probably never would. After that trip I knew I had to just go professional full-time and put everything I had into visual art.

FelixFast4ward Playing Live on Interactive Painting by Detour_Photo Credit Raymundo Munoz.jpg

It took me about six years of experimenting with art and technology. I went from using broken vinyl records, to building my own canvases to install speakers, to studying electronics to build better speakers and amps, to researching how sound waves work. The process is still ongoing. I never really see this as being complete. The fun part is in the journey of trying to accomplish that.

 In my work I want people to feel and hear the sounds of the paint as they experience the 
painting. When someone is fully engulfed in a painting that can be interactive, it takes them to another level of understanding the subject.

Thomas Detour Evans_Credit Armando Geneyro.jpg

Because I never had a formal art background or training, I always question the rules or process. At some point, I would like to be in galleries but for right now, being exactly where my audience hangs out is my primary focus. It’s basically a matter of meeting my fan base where they are. I have even started to do live art at some of Denver’s popular clubs. It has been surprisingly successful because my target market is right there to see art being created. The connection with the music and art that is facilitated by physical touch gives each person a unique experience that can’t be duplicated.

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