Robert Evans, Muralist
Robert Evans created the 3 acrylic-on-canas murals in the City Council chamber.
Robert Evans lives today in the Sherborn, Massachusetts, house where he grew up. Some years ago, he bought the property from his mother because the forest that surrounds it reminds him of his boyhood as a Daniel Boone wannabe. As a youngster, Rob had a compulsion to draw; and by the time he went to college, he says, “Art, by default or process of elimination, was the only thing that made sense to me as a major or a future.”
Rob earned a degree in visual studies and English at Dartmouth College, where he worked closely with several artists-in-residence, including realist painters Tom Blackwell and Ivan Albright. Evans credits both his academic background in tight, trompe-l’oeil realism and the techniques he learned from his first official job as a set painter for theater, opera, film, and videos with having taught him to solve pictorial problems on a large scale and turned him into a muralist.
During his 20-year career, Evans has painted more than 50 murals depicting everything from Eocene and Pleistocene habitats to the life of George Washington for aquariums, museums, restaurants, schools, visitor centers, and zoos. For example, Evans designed and executed 10 murals for the “America on the Move” exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Examples of his works portraying history, natural history, and/or ethnographic subjects can be found at the Woodland Park Zoological Gardens, in Seattle, Washington; the Mount Vernon Visitor Center in Mount Vernon, Virginia; the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and elsewhere throughout the country.
To portray subjects of this kind accurately, Evans says that thorough research is essential but not sufficient. “Well-researched details massed together do not necessarily add up to reality,” he cautions. “The trick,” he explains, “is not to focus so much on the things we think we know that, as a consequence, we lose the antic, random, surprising aspects of nature, which might have caught our eye had we been witnesses to the actual event.” Evans believes that these “antic, random aspects” give a sense of immediacy to scenes from long ago.