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“Freak Power at the Frazier”

Next Upcoming Date: Tuesday, July 23 2019

Freak Power: Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff
Curated by Daniel Joseph Watkins
April 30 – September 2, 2019.

Hunter S. Thompson came home from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago disgusted yet motivated by what he’d seen: protests violently suppressed, riots, corrupt politicians, and abusive cops. Back in Aspen, he found more of the same. The local police and sheriff’s departments were targeting hippies, charging them with absurd crimes, harassing them on the streets, and trying to push them out of town. He knew something had to be done and he realized it had to be done by people like himself. The hippies, intellectuals, and freaks had remained silent long enough. The time had come to organize and seize political power.

Freak Power tells the story of Hunter’s plan to become Sheriff, take control of Aspen, and transform it from a conservative mining town into a mecca for artists, rebels, and activists. Through original print material from the campaign, photographs, and political art, Freak Power chronicles a little-known period in Hunter S. Thompson’s life, a period when he wrote prolifically about politics, the environment, drugs, and American values. As the conservatives and freaks battled it out, the campaign became fraught with violence, accusations, and moments of absurdity that bordered on fiction. As weird a tale as Thompson ever wrote, his own forays into politics may have been his wittiest and most thought-provoking escapade of all.” —      Excerpted from the jacket of Freak Power: Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff (2015) by Daniel Joseph Watkins, curator of the Freak Power exhibition. Book available for purchase in the Frazier’s Museum Store.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

Featuring 125 limited edition silkscreen prints, offset lithographs, mimeographs, magazine covers and excerpts, reproductions of historical newspaper articles, and documentary photographs; a 30-minute BBC documentary on the campaign titled High Noon and additional rare historical footage of debates, campaign speeches, and election night coverage; a faithful recreation of Hunter’s Owl Farm kitchen, countertops and all; and actual voter registration forms, Freak Power presents a visual history of the growing political involvement of hippies and artists in the Freak Power movement.

Replica of Hunter’s kitchen. Installation by Frazier Museum.

A special section dedicated to Thompson’s hometown roots includes a photograph of his childhood home at 2437 Ransdell Avenue and a copy of a 1955 issue of Spectator, a publication put out by the literary club of which Hunter was an Associate Editor and Censor. Also featured are artifacts related to the “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” the groundbreaking article Hunter wrote about his chaotic experience at the 1970 Kentucky Derby with artist Ralph Steadman. On display are Steadman’s illustrations for the article, as well as a 30th Anniversary Special Print with an accompanying broadside from 2000 that have been signed and splattered by Steadman.

Note: the Freak Power exhibition is curated by Daniel Joseph Watkins and all works included in the exhibition belong to the Freak Power Art Collection unless stated otherwise.