In a career that has spanned more than three decades, artist Steven Evans has consistently explored connections between music, language, memory, identity, community, and collectivity. When he arrived in New York City, New York in the late 1980s, Evans was involved in two scenes that shaped his ongoing artistic practice: activism and dance music. As a member of agit-prop activist groups like ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Queer Nation, and Visual AIDS, Evans sought to share information to educate and protect the public from the ravages of the AIDS epidemic through a variety of forms of public demonstration. At the same time, Evans was excited by the burgeoning dance music scene, which brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds to commune and celebrate on dance floors.
Evans’s ongoing commitment to an interest in language is evident in his serial engagement with song titles. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) is pleased to present Evans’s newest work, If I Can’t Dance, It’s Not My Revolution (Stonewall Timeline, 1969-2019) (2019) in which 50 song titles rendered in latex paint and adhesive vinyl coalesce in a concrete poem upon the gallery’s pink walls. Taking the 1969 Stonewall Riots as his point of departure, Evans has traced a 50-year history told through the shared experience of popular music. The song titles Evans fabricates in colored neon conjure the illumination of bars and dance clubs, and the energy that animates them. Taken together, these two bodies of work celebrate language, music, community (queer and otherwise), and spirits of celebration and resistance. In Evans’s hands, the notion of movement is simultaneously individual and collective, physical and political.