It’s the year 2119. Magnetic hover boards have displaced scooters as the new, hip mode of transportation and Major League Soccer is far more popular than the National Football League. Denver has become one of the largest cities in the country and is being inundated with migrants from the coasts whose homes have become uninhabitable due to sea level rise.
This imaginary future Denver is still 100 years away, but visitors to the RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Five Points can start experiencing it on Nov. 8 with the opening of the gallery’s 5 Pointers Museum. Created by Denver artist Thomas “Detour” Evans, the museum will explore this imaginary time and place through the story of a fictional jazz hop band called The 5 Pointers.
The museum will display 5 Pointers artifacts like ticket stubs, concert posters and instruments. Visitors will learn more about each band member’s back story and the band’s rise to prominence. Evans says 5 Pointers Museum is supposed to be like what Graceland is to Elvis, except that the 5 Pointers are entirely made up and each of the museum’s artifacts have been painstakingly handcrafted by the artist himself.
Even the 5 Pointers themselves will make appearances on three nights. Evans recruited four musician friends to play the band’s characters who will perform on futuristic instruments designed by Evans.
“I wanted it to be almost like a comic book that you’re walking into,” Evans said.
Best known for his murals and colorful pop portraits, Evans had to move beyond his normal repertoire to bring this all to life. He taught himself how to bind books and design instruments. He wrote an entire newspaper’s worth of stories and learned about 3D printing. Most importantly, he said, he learned how to manage a group of musicians, fabricators and carpenters to bring about his vision.
“I felt a little bit like a director,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in movies, but I thought this was a way to do some of things but with a skill I’m good at, which is making art.”
To give context for the items on display Evans had to extend the boundaries of his comic book universe beyond the walls of the museum. Within the band member’s back stories he weaves in details about a 2100s world wracked by climate change and natural resource constraints. Everything from the fictional events that occur in Evans’ stories to the materials used in the bandmates’ personal belongings have been shaped by the environmental pressures of this future.
The issue of sea-level rise and displacement is also common throughout Evans’ stories. In his world, massive displacement from coastal cities has forced entire countries to migrate to inland cities in the U.S., including Denver. These climate migrants bring with them the last shreds of their culture, which in turn become a part of Denver.
“It was a chance to think about what happens when people leave a place, what is it that they bring with them,” He said.
To Evans not all of these issues are just speculative concerns for down the road. Many of these problems are playing out now.
“We are going through a lot of changes now in Denver. Setting this story here gives people more of an emotional connection because they can see how change affects them,” he said. “For me, it’s a fun way to hit on these different issues and show how some things are cyclical.”