The following article was published in the Daily Camera on 4/02/21 written by Kalene McCort
Last weekend, Boulder-based visionary artist Phil Lewis teamed up with Elevations Credit Union to raise thousands of dollars for a fund the financial organization launched in support of the victims’ families and employees impacted by the March 22 King Soopers shooting.
“Building community is something I cherish here at the gallery, and we have such a supportive and caring crew,” Lewis said. “I am humbled. The amount of orders that poured in from all over the country was also incredible.”
Lewis donated $2,933, 50% of all proceeds from gallery sales over the allotted days. Elevations Credit Union then matched his generous donation, resulting in a collective amount of $5,866 going into the fund.
“When I heard they were going to be matching all donations, it was a no-brainer to join forces,” Lewis said.
Elevations has a goal of reaching $400,000 and will continue to match every donation dollar for dollar up to $200,000 through April 6.
“Elevations Credit Union has been a part of the Boulder community since 1953, and to see this kind of tragedy in our hometown was utterly shocking,” said Gerry Agnes, president and CEO of Elevations Credit Union. “Our community is at the heart of our credit union, and in the toughest of times, we come together to support our neighbors. While we can’t replace the unthinkable loss these families have faced, we can offer financial resources and fundraising efforts to help our community during this difficult time.”
Over the years, Lewis has cultivated a devoted following of fans who resonate with his intricate and boldly colored pieces that often incorporate sacred geometry, the bliss of nature and spirit animal totems.
His call to support the newly established fund was met with excitement from his patrons.
“Many folks who have lived in Boulder at some point, but may have moved on since, responded to my newsletter and wanted to contribute,” Lewis said. “The community spirit in Boulder is extremely strong. I feel fortunate that I could help bring us together to support those hurting the most through my artwork and gallery.”
Last weekend, shoppers frequented his gallery at 2034 Pearl St., Unit 102, and online sales also spiked.
“On Saturday, I was standing in line waiting for an order at Boxcar/Cured, which was holding a fundraiser to benefit the King Soopers victims’ families,” said Lauri Hughes, of Boulder. “I noticed an email come through from Phil Lewis Gallery that said 50% of the profits from their weekend sales would also be going to the victims’ families. I love Phil’s art and never need an excuse to shop there.”
Hughes purchased a phone case and a canvas elephant print.
“The way the community has stepped up to support the victims in this tragedy has been heartwarming and inspiring,” Hughes said. “Shopping at Phil’s gallery is a tiny way for me to honor the victims, as well as support a local business.”
“I was feeling so many mixed emotions with the tragedy that happened at the King Soopers in Boulder Table Mesa,” said Lisa Tilley, of Longmont. “It felt personal to me since I knew one of the victims, and I was greatly saddened.”
Tilley would often frequent Applause, a former Pearl Street Mall boutique that carried eclectic pieces for children and women, co-owned by shooting victim Jody Waters.
“She was always so friendly and helpful,” Tilley said.
Looking for a way to lend support, Tilley jumped at the opportunity to purchase from Lewis.
“As Phil Lewis mentioned in his email, which went out to the community, we all wanted to do something and weren’t sure what we could do to help,” Tilley said. “When I learned that he was donating the proceeds as well as giving a link to donate to the victims’ families, I felt compelled that this is what I needed to do. I am a big fan of Phil‘s and also wanted to do my part to contribute. I purchased the Peace EcoVessel, not only because I loved the artwork but I felt it would remind me of those who passed away and Boulder’s resilience to keep strong.”
In addition to giving back monetarily, Lewis felt the call to provide a bit of artistic solace and channel his heartbreak and anger into a creative outlet, so he revised two of his works.
“Both of these are remixes of other pieces that I had already created,” Lewis said. “But, I wanted to create something that reflected how I was feeling last week. The first one is a Sri Yantra, which is a powerful symbol for manifestation, hovering in the clouds above the Flatirons.”
Lewis hopes his work offers folks a small opportunity to find some inner tranquility during this incredibly difficult time.
“I encouraged people to meditate on this image and think clearly about what changes they might want to see in the world,” Lewis said. “To me, it is an image that speaks to the community spirit in Boulder, and hopefully, if we all come together, we can create change. This all begins with your intentions and it was my hope that this image could inspire people to think positive thoughts about how we can move forward together with less violence and more compassion for each other.”
From working with bands to create custom poster art to releasing a line of children’s coloring books and puzzles, Lewis has consistently remained community-focused and adamant about making his art accessible to a broad audience.
“This second image is also a remix of an upcoming release,” Lewis said. “I was overwhelmed with the support from the community and wanted to create something to portray this strength — ‘Colorado Love.’ Both of these images contain similar sentiments, about how much love there is within this community. I wish it was under different circumstances, but it’s reassuring to know that despite this year of social distancing and covering our smiles with masks, we still have massive love and support for each other.”
Prior to the pandemic, his Pearl Street storefront was the locale of many festivities, where DJs spun and collaborations with other artists were celebrated. As restriction guidelines start to loosen, the creative hopes to welcome more guests back into his artistic space.
“I absolutely cannot wait to get back to having events at the gallery,” Lewis said. “One of my main goals with the space is to provide a venue for the community. This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, especially those in the live music, festival and entertainment industries. As soon as regulations are lifted and everyone feels comfortable being in close quarters with each other again, we will be booking more guest art shows, music performances and other community gatherings.”
After the matching deadline of April 6, Elevations Credit Union will announce how much money was raised.
“It’s an honor to partner with amazing community members like Phil Lewis in amplifying donations to important causes like this,” Agnes said. “We are still exploring opportunities to offer additional support to King Soopers employees and families of the victims in partnership with local businesses. We hope to share an update about our efforts soon.”