I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
Well Newshoggers has closed it's doors so Middle Earth Journal is active once again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thomas W. Benton - Artist/Activist

There are many ways to study history. We have written history but that always reflects the philosophy of the individual writing it and that history will change over time. Even the memories of those who lived the history changes over time. There is one thing that is constant - the art that was created in response to the world as the present became history. Thanks to Daniel Joseph Watkins we have the opportunity to see the art of Artist/Activist Thomas W. Benton. Benton's poster art documents the political issues of his home in Aspen Colorado and the United States beginning in the turbulent 60's.



Thomas Benton was born in Oakland California on November 16, 1930. Before enlisting in the Navy during the Korean War he attended Glendale Junior College. Following his time in the Navy he studied architecture at the University of Southern California and practiced architecture in the LA area for several years. In 1962 he moved to Aspen Colorado where he built a studio and taught himself the art of silkscreen. His studio became the meeting place for local intellectuals and Benton became a local activist. Like many during that period the Vietnam war shaped his politics but his fear that the commercialization of the Aspen area would destroy the paradise was also influential. In the late 60s he first met "gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thomson and his career as a political poster artist took off.



In addition to 150 posters, both political and artistic, this beautiful coffee-table book contains several of the Aspen Wallposters which were a collaboration of Benton's art and Hunter S. Thompson's writing.


Hunter walked into my studio one day and said, "we should do an Aspen wallposter." I said, "what the hell is that?" He said, "It's gonna be a single sheet thing, and it'll have your graphics on one side and my writing on the other." He would write about local politics and other things. We would get together at night in my studio and I'd work on the graphics while he would write the whole damn back page in one night. Of course, that night might take a day and a half.

~Tom Benton


For those interested in the politics of late 60's and early 70's this book is truly a visual treat.

You can find more examples here.




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