After closing his Whickerbill Gifts shop downtown, owner John Eastham gave his godson one of the bulky bureaus that had occupied space in the store. As Eastham's godson, Noel Black, took inventory of each drawer, he discovered — or rediscovered — a large stack of the lost, zany and often satirical typographical art of Roy Linton.
"They had been in the drawers for decades," Black says. "My godfather said that Roy Linton and his buddy Roy Funnell used to bring him posters, and he'd sell them for a dollar."
Black brought Linton's work to light on KRCC's The Big Something, a radio show Black created and hosts. On the program, Eastham explained many of the psychedelic posters in his godson's new collection, which inhabit the realms of the ridiculous ("Ski Vietnam") and cheeky ("Jesus Saves S&H Green Stamps").
In the beginning, Linton, alongside Funnell and Linton's father, called their silk screening collective Hobbit Hole Posters. The group made posters as Linton and Funnell wrapped up their education at Palmer High School in the late 1960s, and kept going until 1972.
"The kind of posters that we did — like 'Nobody Loves a Smartass' and 'Love Thy Neighbor And Don't Get Caught' — were things that my mother would have never approved of; never would have allowed in the house," Linton says. "She died in June of 1968."
"However, my father not only encouraged it, but helped with the printing process."
Since 1970, Linton has maintained a professional career as an auto body painter; now 62, he works and lives out of Denver. In his downtime, he's moved into crafting ornate collages at the expense of printed material: books, newspapers, magazines. Two of his collages took more than 30 years to complete.
And while some men mark time by ex-girlfriends or ex-wives, or by what cars they drove, Linton says he's able to use his collages to "obliterate time."
"There were times in my life, when I was working on that, which I'd just as soon forget," he says. "But still, I soldiered on, created these things, so I can look at them, and say this erases the bad times."
Though some of Linton's posters were on display at The Big Something multimedia exhibition last October, his August showing at S.P.Q.R. will be his first personal show, which came about at Black's urging. Pieces from Black's collection and eight of Linton's collages will be showcased.
After the show, Linton hopes to revisit the world of poster making. This time around, he'd like to call the venture "Hobbit Whole" in honor of Funnell, who passed away a year and a half ago.
It's a new era, but the artist believes it needs a dose of familiar vision.
"I want to make people look at things in a different way," Linton says. "Are you really happy with the world?"