War, Weed and Rock n’ Roll: Portrait of an Era in Posters

Tom Benton poster

The poster above and those below were created by Thomas W. Benton and are part of the Freak Power exhibit currently on display at the Poster House in New York. Benton was an artist, originally from California, who is best known for his political posters. These works were created in the 1960’s and 70’s while he was in Aspen, Colo.

In Aspen, he teamed with Hunter S. Thompson in creating the Freak Power Party. Thompson, an author and journalist known for his work with Rolling Stone, is associated with the “gonzo” style of journalism. That involves writing in the first person, with the writer being part of the story and with no concerns about objectivity. Freak Power stood for racial and gender equality, legalization of marijuana, sexual liberation and respect for nature.

Using Benton’s posters as they’re primary vehicle, he and Thompson created the Aspen Wall Poster as a news outlet to replace the Aspen Illustrated News when it closed. Under the Freak Power banner, Thompson ran an unsuccessful campaign for Aspen County Sheriff. Benton produced the campaign posters.

Colorado would become the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, but that was 42 years after Tom Benton created this poster in 1970.

Colorado NORML, Tom Benton

Before there was Trump, there was this guy:

Freak Power campaign poster
Freak Power campaign poster

And then there’s the music

These posters advertised shows at the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore in San Francisco in the 1960’s. They were commissioned by promoters Bill Graham and Chet Helms. The designer’s name is on each.

The American Dream
Tom Benton
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5 Responses to War, Weed and Rock n’ Roll: Portrait of an Era in Posters

  1. I didn’t know about Poster House. I might check it out on one of my future visits to NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna Janke says:

    Very cool collection! Definitely a portrait of an era.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post. Gut-checking sociopolitical pieces blended with psychedelic expressionism. My kind of art.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BroadBlogs says:

    Wow! These are so interesting. And evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

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