“The purpose of a poster is to graphically make a statement. Words and graphics must be directed to get across one idea universally. A poster should leave no doubt about what the artist means, and it should have the same interpretation by everyone.” - Tom Benton
Throughout his career Benton backed his art with activism. During the late 1960s and early ’70s he created numerous posters against the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration, which he held in particular disdain.
“He’s always been a very courageous spokesman both through his art and his politics for issues related to peace and the environment,” said former Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis.
Benton organized a memorable war protest and peace march in 1968 to the Aspen- area home of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. When McNamara attempted to walk out through the protesters, Benton blocked the driveway with his body and barred the exit, proclaiming, “We don’t like your war, and just because this is a resort town, don’t think you can get away from it.”
In response to plans in 1969 to detonate an underground nuclear bomb near Rulison, Colorado, Benton organized and led a march in opposition. Marchers carried his posters declaring, “Stop the military industrial complex” and “No contamination without representation.” The message was clear, the turnout impressive, but the bomb was set off anyway.