(from his Featured Artist article in the Sandoval Signpost by Keiko Ohnuma)
Evans came to Placitas in the 1970s, when the hippies and nonconformists started arriving in New Mexico determined to chop wood, haul water, and live genuine lives that didn’t compromise their humanity.
But Evans was no youngster himself. Already forty, he was an architect who had left behind a 3,700-square-foot house he designed for his family in a posh suburb of Chicago. He came because he was intrigued by the movement of young people, “kids dropping out of college, saying, ‘We’re not going to follow this regimented way of getting money,’” he recalls.
By 1989, he started sculpting animal figures out of wood. Artfully carved and painted in what has become his signature style, they caricatured animals in ironic social settings—a “Far Side” cartoon in three dimensions. Evans turned to animals to express human foibles in a way that would bypass assumptions related to race, class, sex, age, and other human markers. Before long, Evans started making his animal sculptures larger than life, combining his knowledge of building materials, engineering, and illustration with the long habit of social commentary.
Approaching Evans’ compound along a narrowing dirt road, one meets the odd cement rabbit, mosaic horse, or zoomorphic abstraction in some stage of realization, hinting of more fantastic visions to come. At the bottom of the property is his domed house—just seven hundred square feet of living space, plus a two hundred-foot loft for sleeping, tiled in mosaic fantasy and animal sculptures at every turn. Building small was meant to simplify life, he says, but turned out to be complicated in a system designed for consumption and profit.
It’s no wonder he has served as a mentor and inspiration to dozens of younger Sandoval County artists. Seeing the white-haired Evans determinedly at work on his stalk-legged zoo, one can’t help but marvel at the art of continuing to be a refusenik in the modern era: having the final word, in steel mesh and cement, and having the last laugh about it too.
Watch this delightful video about Roger.