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The Evolution Underground
Evolve2Advance wants your eyes and ears

By now you must have been informed that the revolution will not be televised, but did you know it was going to be silk-screened on a t-shirt? Portland's hardest-working artist collective, Evolve2Advance, is determined to explode your consciousness one sweatshop-free shirt, spray-paint can, and quartz-crystal necklace at a time.

Evolve2Advance was founded by Dominic D'Alessio to create an umbrella organization for promoting the artistic output of his peers. This spring, he met public relations powerhouse and local artist Kate E. Schier, and by the summer they had amassed an impressive catalog of jewelry and clothing designs and promoted painting, sculpture, murals, and whatever else they could fit into their vision of cultural and spiritual revolution.

The easiest way to tap into E2A's work is through their hefty online presence. Evolve2Advance.com features a requisite catalog but also farms free-range forums on "corporate personhood," "nature and geometry," and "the power of the masses." The catalog reads like a manifesto, recalling the Futurists and Dadaists of the early twentieth century, but these 80s babies learned a thing or two from Warhol. They give the people what they want, but let them know they're being fooled by the means of production. Mass-market distribution is evident in their business model, but ideas are being coupled with products. Relevant quotes from the likes of Lao-Tzu, Noam Chomsky, and the MC5 are featured on the site.

Of course, you can experience E2A output by wearing it as well. Clothing designs by collective members stand out in a post-ironic-t-shirt age. Such disparate images as lions of Arthurian heraldry, classic hip-hop curves, and modernist mandalas all speak loudly enough to be seen. David Wolfe, a letterpress enthusiast and teacher at the Maine College of Art offers a shirt design with the words "OH MY GOD" repeating over and over, falling on top of each other in a heap of textual panic. Local design guru Ratio offers intricately spiritual designs on paper and clothing. The finely interwoven subjects seem mechanic, but the functional lines always appear remarkably organic when perceived as a whole. This is what happens when you reach nirvana after a life of meditation, or when you close your eyes after taking too much acid take your pick. Schier's latest works include dress shirts featuring the script of the Bill of Rights. The art isn't just in the fine execution of the works, it's in the dissemination of the pieces and wearing them with awareness.

Jewelry designers Matt Baron and Bianca Pastrana demand this level of consciousness in the viewer/wearer. Baron's elegant designs feature monochrome stones framed by sterling silver wire that brings to mind ancient eastern symbols. The balance achieved in each piece is clearly related to the artist's lifelong commitment to martial arts and spiritual concerns therein. Pastrana chooses unique, uncut gemstones with the intention of harnessing the essential power of different types of crystals. Often, these pieces are embedded in silver wire that curves around the stone with life-like precision, making it appear as though the jewelry has grown like ivy around the wearer.

The paintings of Tim P. Clorius involve surreal landscapes of the culture industry. Traditional landscapes are beautifully rendered, but seem to be from the perspective of a passing train. His most successful works are Hieronymus Bosch-style visions of modern lifestyle. These influences are present in public graffiti projects around the city of Portland under Clorius' moniker, Sub One.

You can catch the travelling collective at the MECA Holiday Art Sale from December 3-5.

Situationist Guy Debord warns us that the spirit of the all-consuming spectacle, so evident in our advanced capitalist society, will consume any new modes of communication that seek to stand against it. Perhaps that is the fate of E2A, which is riding a dangerous line between revolution and business. For now, however, this is the stuff of ideas on which you can build a creative economy. For now, we should be buying.


Issue Date: November 18 - 24, 2005
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