Thomas W. Benton: Artist / Activist

Thomas W. Benton: Artist / Activist

By Daniel Joseph Watkins

Hi guys – delighted to bring you details of this fantastic new book by Daniel Joseph Watkins. Below is the press release and I will have a review up tomorrow.

Ok for now,


Launch event and signing are this week


Nationally recognized poster artist Tom Benton visually documented the issues and conflicts of Aspen and America for four decades beginning in the turbulent late 1960s. Two years after Benton’s death in 2007, Daniel J. Watkins embarked on a journey “into the barns and basements and attics of old Aspen,” according to the Aspen Daily News, to unearth and catalog more than five hundred of his works, many of them previously unknown.

The result is Thomas W. Benton: Artist/Activist, a coffee-table book that chronicles the life and political activism of the artist with 150 images of his work. Artist / Activist follows Benton from his early days in Aspen, which he considered a kind of Shangri-la threatened by money and development, through his disillusionment with politics and experimentation with different art forms.

In conjunction with the Aspen Art Museum, there will be a book release party on WednesdayJuly 13 at the Sky Hotel from 5-7 p.m. Featuring original Benton works, food, drinks and a discussion with associate curator Matthew Thompson, this event is open to the public.

On Saturday, July 16, join Watkins at Explore Booksellers at 7 p.m. for a book reading, and question and answer session.

Cataloging political movements and elections from 1968 to 2006, Benton’s silkscreen posters are a powerful visual account of the issues and campaigns that shaped history. In addition to numerous candidates and issues in Aspen, Benton created political posters for presidential candidates George McGovern and Gary Hart, and against President Nixon.

The book includes never-before-published images of the Aspen Wallposters, a collaboration of Benton’s art and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s writing that promoted their Freak Power movement. Benton’s later works, including abstract silkscreens, monotypes and paintings, are also explored in relation to the artist’s life and philosophies. Artist / Activist also documents Benton’s commercial work in Aspen as a signmaker/printmaker and architect.

The first major collection of Benton’s artwork to be published, Artist / Activist also includes ten poems by close friend and lyricist Joe Henry, a foreword by George S. Stranahan, and an introduction by art history professor Hal Elliott Wert. Watkins’ catalog of Benton’s work plus a blog can be found online at

“Tom Benton integrated strong and powerful graphic symbolism into the political fray of our times. His simple yet monumental approach to what needed to be said gave a voice to those who wished to be seen and heard. He remains a powerful example of commitment in a world gone wrong.”

—Ralph Steadman, Gonzo artist

“Tom Benton’s avant-garde anti-war, cause, and political posters place him in the center of a small number of great propaganda artists of the last century. Even those quite knowledgeable of poster art will be treated to dozens of posters rarely seen, if at all. This well-designed book is a major contribution to the history of political art.”

— Hal Elliott Wert, Kansas City Art Institute history professor, author of Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints

“As an artist, Benton used ink and paint and paper and passion and strong alliances to speak what had to be spoken. This very fine publication is a sentinel to Benton’s immortality.”

—Bob Braudis, former Pitkin County sheriff


“Watkins’ sparse and workmanlike prose, alongside the visual assault of Benton’s staggering work, amount to … a testament to the little known span of the artist’s triumphs.”

—Andrew Travers, Aspen Daily News

Thomas W. Benton: Artist / Activist

Daniel Joseph Watkins

People’s Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-936905-90-4

August 2011 / $39.95

Hardcover, 195 pages


Scholarships to Gonzo Journalism Workshop with Douglas Brinkley

Hi Everybody,


I have exciting news here regarding the opportunity this coming June to participate in a Gonzo Journalism workshop with Douglas Brinkley at The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony based in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The workshop takes place from June 12, 2011 – Sunday, June 19, 2011. Full details below:


The Hunter S. Thompson workshop will engage with the essence of Gonzo journalism. Assigned texts include Fear & Loathing, The Proud Highway, The Great Shark Hunt, and Generation of Swine. Further information on the workshop and our application form can be found at: The application asks for a sample of your own journalistic writing.


The instructor Dr. Douglas Brinkley is the literary executor of the Hunter S. Thompson estate. Dr. Brinkley is a Professor of History at Rice University.  Since 1989 he has taught at the U.S. Naval Academy, Princeton University and Tulane University.  Six of his biographies have been chosen as New York Times books of the year. Brinkley is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and American Heritage, as well as a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly.


The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony is an educational nonprofit dedicated to supporting and celebrating literary voices which challenge the norm and surprise their audiences. We promote a vision of the writer as an actor in public debate.

We hope to bring together a community of Thompson enthusiasts and great writers for this week in June!


Jessica Zlotnicki

Program Manager

Norman Mailer Center &

Writers Colony

Well what can I say guys, that is quite the opportunity – please let me know if you intend on applying and of course should you be one of the lucky few who gets a scholarship!

All the best,



6 Years – Unpublished Hunter S. Thompson Interview Surfaces


The folks over at The Quietus really gifted the Gonzo world a rare treat this week by unearthing this great interview with Hunter from 1998. It is fairly lengthy and covers some very interesting topics – from Bill Clinton to The Rum Diary. I’m not going to jabber on about this too much, it is just great to read new words (old words?)  from the man, particularly in relation to his thoughts on Paul Kemp and Yeamon – check it out here.

In keeping with the whole Rum Diary focus, long time Gonzo devotee Robert Chalmers checks in over at The Independent with a great interview with Bruce Robinson – in which the director of The Rum Diary discussing everything from how he thought he was going to die in a plane crash with Johnny Depp to why writing The Rum Diary screenplay dredged up some old demons. Read the entire piece here.

Also Ralph Steadman is now a contributor over at Kotori Magazine. Check out his thoughts on smoking and not to mention his poetry!  Thanks to Jake McGee for the heads up!

Ok for now – time to raise a toast to The Good Doctor,





Gonzo Fest – Tonight in Kentucky



• What: Gonzo Fest
• When: Saturday, noon to midnight and beyond
• Where: The Monkey Wrench, 1025 Barret Ave.
• Cost: Admission: $12 advance, $15 at the door, $75 for VIP package including rooftop access.
• Info: Tickets and information: (502) 582-2434


Sorry for the short notice,

Check it out if you can,



Video of first Gonzo Foundation Seminar at Owl Farm

Hey folks,

You can now download an hour long video of the first Gonzo Foundation Seminar at Owl Farm. The video features George Stranahan and Michael Owsley discussing political issues – from the local to the national, along with Anita Thompson, Wayne Ewing and various guests. Discussion aside, the video offers a rare glimpse of another part of Owl Farm, which is as you would expect – full of Gonzo related furnishings.

You can download the video by visiting this page from Grassroots TV.

Take care,



The Gonzo Foundation

Hey folks,

Just a heads up that The Gonzo Foundation is now up and running. Anita Thompson just posted an update over at Owlfarmblog with some details. Although the first seminar is sold out, there will be more to come. If you would like to know more and receive notifications of future Gonzo Foundation events then make sure to register here – The Gonzo Foundation Official Site.

Sounds interesting!



Animals, Whores & Dialogue: Breakfast with Hunter Vol.2


Great news folks,

Wayne Ewing returns with the eagerly anticipated sequel to Breakfast with Hunter. Anointed as the official “man behind the camera” by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the critically acclaimed producer, director and cinematographer brings us yet another intimate portrait of one of the most important figures in 2oth Century American literature. It is an invaluable record but its brilliance resides in Ewing’s ability to pierce the shroud of myth surrounding Thompson to reveal the true artist and writer beneath. The title of this sequel – Animals, Whores & Dialogue, stems from the words affixed to Thompson’s typewriter – subject matter that he turned to in order to fire up the Gonzo engine and get into gear as the high priest of hedonism who danced right to the edge of the abyss as he lamented the death of the American Dream.    


With a release date of July 13th head on over to Wayne Ewing’s Official Site and order your copy today.



Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

“For a guy that ain’t straight at all, he’s pretty goddamn straight. He’s one of the few honest people I’ve ever met, for good or ill.”

HST on Allen Ginsberg

Ah yes, Mr. Ginsberg was an important member of The Gonzo Tribe for many reasons, not least for the help he gave Hunter when he was writing Hells Angels. I received an email during the week from Noel Dávila about an exhibition that he recently attended which I am sure you will all find interesting –  Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg. The exhibition is taking place at National Gallery of Art, May 2–September 19, 2010. Here is a brief excerpt from the official website about the exhibition:

 In the first scholarly exhibition of American poet Allen Ginsberg’s photographs, all facets of his work in photography will be explored. Some 79 works on display will range from the 1950s “drugstore” prints to his now celebrated portraits of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, snapshots of Ginsberg himself taken just before he achieved literary fame, and his later portraits of the Beats and other friends made in the 1980s and 1990s. Ginsberg (1926–1997) started taking photographs in 1953 when he purchased a small, secondhand Kodak camera. For the next decade he captured numerous intimate shots of himself as well as his friends and lovers. He abandoned photography in 1963 but returned to it in the early 1980s. Encouraged by photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank, he reprinted much of his early work and began making new portraits, adding sometimes extensive inscriptions. Although Ginsberg’s photographs form a compelling portrait of the Beat and counterculture generation from the 1950s to the 1990s, his pictures are far more than mere historical documents. The same ideas that inform his poetry—an intense observation of the world, a deep appreciation of the beauty of the vernacular, a celebration of the sacredness of the present, and a faith in intuitive expression—also permeate his photography.

Here is a photo of Noel at the exhibit.


Noel is singer/songwriter, blogger, music journalist, poet…and as you can tell from the photo, a Gonzo junkie like myself. Hunter once described a person into Gonzo as being like an egg-sucking dog – there is no known cure. Noel knows this well, as I am sure you all do. Make sure you drop by Noel’s site and check out his work. He is a talented bloke and is a contributor to the HST for Beginners series.  (note to self – submit something before Marty lynches me)

Ok for now and thanks to Noel for the heads up!




From Owl Farm to The Chateau Marmont

Just a quick update because I am blind as a bat here at the moment. Anita has a lengthy update over at OwlFarmBlog which I am sure you will all find very interesting. It is good to hear that The Red Shark is still prowling the twisted roads of Woody Creek.

Also Wayne Ewing recalls the time he spent with Hunter & Benicio Del Toro at the Chateau Marmont over at his new vlog. Sounds like an interesting trip, I’m sure the staff there will never forget Mr. Green.

Ok for now and slowly on the mend,

Ron Mexico