Gonzo Gallery rebranding as ‘Fat City Gallery’
The itinerant Gonzo Gallery will change its name to “Fat City Gallery” upon its next move in May.
The popular gallery, which over the past decade has engaged a youthful audience and sparked creative dialogue rarely found in the Aspen art scene, has specialized in work related to the author and local icon Hunter S. Thompson, illustrator Ralph Steadman and printmaker/activist Tom Benton among others counterculture figures.
On May 15, the gallery will move to 529 E. Cooper Ave. and reopen as Fat City Gallery, marking a pivot away from Thompson while also paying homage to Thompson’s campaign promise to rename Aspen “Fat City” during his 1970 campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County.
“I’m re-branding as Fat City Gallery to focus on Aspen-oriented artwork and history,” gallery director Daniel Joseph Watkins said Thursday.
The gallery’s website has been changed to fatcitygallery.com and its social media handles will follow.
“I’m pivoting away from Hunter-related stuff because I’ve done pretty much all I can in that arena,” Watkins said. “I may reopen a version of the Gonzo Gallery or Gonzo Museum in the future, but this summer will be Fat City Gallery.”
The new space is scheduled to run from May 15 to Oct. 1. It will open with an exhibition of posters and artwork by Tom Benton. Later shows will focus on Aspen mining maps and a solo exhibition by locally based artist Teal Wilson.
Watkins said he has been energized by recent exhibitions unrelated to the gonzo/Thompson realm, including well-received solo shows by locally based artists Laura Betty and Wally and this weekend’s opening of a solo exhibition by Axel Livingston.
The gallery originally opened as the “Gonzo Museum” in 2011 in Benton’s former studio space downtown. As the Gonzo Gallery, it has bounced among more than a half-dozen locations since then, mostly on discounted short-term leases at buildings owned and developed by the Hecht family. Since last summer, it has ben housed in two storefronts on the 600 block of Hyman Ave. next door to the Aspen Art Museum.
Wherever it’s landed, the gallery has hosted lively community events like the “Liberty Salons” that brought together locals and guest speakers to discuss issues of the day. It has also been the launchpad for Watkins’ wider creative projects, including coffee table books on Benton and on Thompson’s sheriff campaign, a nationally touring exhibition of photos and materials from Thompson’s sheriff campaign and the 2020 documentary film “Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb” about the campaign.
The gallery was the main event site of October’s “Freak Power Day,” officially proclaimed by Aspen Mayor Torre – who also ceremonially renamed the town “Fat City” – honoring the 50th anniversary of the “Freak Power” campaign.
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
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