Since the 1960's Aspen has been a liberal stronghold in the State of Colorado. As the County Seat for rural Pitkin County, Aspen became a political hotbed. The traditional ranchers vs. the liberal newcomers. Aspen with its natural beauty, mountain lifestyle and open spaces became a place that attracted hippies and other free spirits who embodied a "live free" attitude in addition to the Aspen Idea...Body, Mind and Spirit.
Hunter S. Thompson came to Aspen in the late 60's allegedly to escape the wrath of the Hell's Angels who were not happy by his portrayal of them in his first book...Hell's Angels. Thompson became a controversial political figure in Aspen by supporting liberal candidates and eventually running for Sheriff himself on the "Freak Power" ticket in 1970. His famous and haunting campaign posters were created by Thomas Benton, a self trained silk screen artist and printmaker, who like Thompson came to Aspen to find and follow his own, less traditional path.
Thompson was generally credited with the creation of Gonzo Journalism...where the reporter is actually immersed in the story and it becomes a first-person narrative. Gonzo employs emotion, sarcasm, humor, exaggeration and profanity to weave its tales. The personality of the piece is central to it's story, and Gonzo is very different from the button down, polished style previously favored by most media. AspenSpin would be considered a deciple of Gonzo. Benton provided much of the imagery for Thompson's books articles and political posters.
When Thompson died in 2005 followed by Benton in 2007, the Gonzo attitude in Aspen began to waiver. One young man, originally from Kansas, Artist / Writer D.J. Watkins has helped keep Gonzo alive in Aspen. Watkins passion for the art,along with the help of The Peoples Press and several Aspen locals who knew both Thompson and Benton led him to write a beautiful book. Watkins has created a stunning coffee table book entitled;
Watkins went into the" barns, basements and attics of old Aspen" to uncover the Art of Thomas Benton. He uncovered more than 500 works created by Benton, many of which were previously unknown. The book contains more than 150 of those images and explores the history, the political climate and the vivid symbolism behind Benton's work. It is the most comprehensive collection of Gonzo Art and Freak Power known to man. It explores a time in Aspen, than many old-time locals still yearn for today.
Thomas Benton: Artist/Activist is a tremendous work of art on it's own. It depicts an era in Aspen and the United States that is long gone. If you love Aspen and you're a fan of history, art and political commentary, The Benton Book is for you. The coffee table book is perfect for your huge 2nd or 3rd home, your tiny studio apartment, your trailer in smuggler or your truck...where ever you call home. The Benton Book also makes a fine gift for anyone who loves Aspen.
Thanks to D.J. Watkins for keeping Gonzo alive in Aspen.
Order your copy today, Click: THOMAS W. BENTON: Artist / Activist.