Thomas W. Benton's posters have been commonplace in the city of Aspen over the years Benton lived there, but when the artist passed away in 2007, some worried the work would never reach the broad audience it deserved. Much of his art has never left the city and most of it has never been cataloged and collected, which is the exact reason artist and author Daniel Joseph Watkins decided to put together a collection of Benton's work, titled Artist/Activist. The book is making its debut tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Tattered Cover, but we were able to grab a few images from the book for a sneak peak into some of the content.
Probably Thomas W. Benton's most famous image, the six-fingered hand clenching peyote was featured on a few posters related to Thompson and his run for Sheriff in 1970.
In later posters, Thompson and Benton had worked out a scheme where Benton would print the posters and Thompson would write propaganda on the back.
More than anything, Benton was an activist for peace and was a charter member of the Aspen Liberation Front.
Benton's work appeared around town for a variety of reasons, and they weren't always political.
Benton would often add in quotes from authors and poets into his work to ensure his meaning wouldn't get lost.
The political posters would continue throughout Benton's life, as would Thompson's trademark slogan, "fear and loathing." As you've probably already noticed, the image of a circle was also a primary motif in his work.
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