The artwork of Tom W. Benton...
Tom Benton's artwork mainly consisted of limited editions of silk screen prints and posters, many of which were political in nature.. His artistic influences include the great Oriental artist Hokusai, Paul Jenkins, Mark Rothko, and Morris Lewis. Later in life, Tom's artwork became larger and more abstract, utilizing larger surfaces and new artistic mediums such as monoprints and painting.
"My interest in art is for the organic and poetic. I have great respect for oriental art and do not deny it's influence in my work. In a sense I'm a raku painter. Raku is a way of approaching art. It's spontaneous, intuitive sense. You learn to take advantage of what's happening to your work while it's happening. There's a lot of emotion and intuitive feeling involved to the point that you almost know when something is going to happen, and afterwords you say I'm not surprised." –Tom Benton
Tom created a number of fine art prints that combine architectural designs with abstract forms and organic images. Tom utilized the silk-screening process to include numerous colors and artistic designs within the works of art. Tom expanded his printing to larger works of art (3'x3', 4'x4', and 5'x5') throughout his career using abstract forms and complex designs.
Tom produced dozens of "activist" posters for various causes ranging from peace and equality to voter registration, anti-pollution, and keeping the Winter Olympics out of Aspen. Tom created his first anti-war "peace" poster in 1965. He used quotes to make sure no one missed the message in his work and occasionally added a straight line to his pieces as representing the "hand of man"
In 1969, Hunter S. Thompson drew a sketch of his mind-image of a fist with a peyote button and Tom proceeded to come up with the iconic "Thompson for Sheriff" design.
In 1970, Tom gained national recognition as the artist who created the posters for Hunter Thompson's infamous campaign for Pitkin County Sheriff.
Tom continued to work to get the people he wanted to see in office elected and even reached the national stage when he designed posters for Gary Hart and George McGovern in the early 70's. Tom continued to create political prints throughout his career including posters for Willie Brown, Bill Noonan, and Aspen Sheriff Bob Braudis in his recent campaign.
The Aspen Wall Posters were a written illustration of the Aspn Liberation Fron'ts protests and philosophies. The Aspen Liberation Front consisted of a group of protesters (including Shady Lane, Ross Griffin, Hunter Thompson, Bill Noonan, Peggy Clifford, and Tom Benton) who met in front of Benton's studio in downtown Aspen during the 1960's and were against "anything that we felt was taking advantage of the town and giving nothing in return". Ultimately seven posters were created using Tom Benton's artwork and the literary work of Hunter S. Thompson.
Later in life, Tom spent much of his "art" time creating monoprints and paintings that were an extension of his earlier work with perhaps a bit more left to the imagination of the viewer. A self-described pessimist in his early career, his more recent works show a shift towards lighter issues in his colors and perhaps even a bit more optimism.