Not just dancing hippies
Imagine a swank-looking fish reclined in an easy chair. Fork raised high in the air, he feasts on a luxuriant meal from a wooden table. Bubbles float by a portrait of George Washington as a school of fellow fish gaze upon the scene. All this is seen through an outline of the state of Washington.Artist and Phish fan Jason Lees designed the poster to mark a two night Phish show at the Gorge in the state of Washington. It is a glimpse into the creative world inspired by the legendary band.”This book will prove that Phish fans are more than just dancing hippies,” said Pete Mason, producer of the book “Phanart: The Art of the Fans of Phish.”
Mason conceived the idea for the book as a way to preserve the Phish legacy after the band’s final show in 2004, and to showcase the creative work inspired by the band. Others agreed it was an excellent idea.”The community is about spontaneity,” Lees said, “There’s so much creativity around the band that shouldn’t be lost to the ether.” After setting up http://www.phanart.net, where fans can send in artwork in honor of Phish, Mason quickly received over 1,000 submissions. Expecting to reach the goal of 1,400 pieces soon, Mason said the number holds special significance to any true Phish fan. For those who aren’t in the know, he chooses not to explain the secret until the book is published.The book will present shirts, posters, paintings, drawings, stickers, tattoos, license plates and “anything Phish-related that classifies as art,” Mason said. Interviews with prominent members of the Phish community give additional insight into the culture that sprung up around the band. Artists contributing to the project include Scramble Campell, Ryan Kerrigan, A.J. Masthay, Jason Lees, Jamie Huntsman, Kurt Vonnegut and many others.
A long-time Phish fan, Lees began creating posters to commemorate Phish shows. He creates them digitally, using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.”I was always frustrated with oil paints,” Lees said. “It takes a long time to get the color I wanted. With computers, you can change the colors a million times in a minute. The stories are so colorful and imaginative. It’s real easy to get creative listening to them.”The book is a nonprofit endeavor for Mason, and it will ultimately benefit children. All revenue will go to the Mockingbird Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing accurate historical information about Phish and its music. Composed entirely of unpaid volunteers, the Mockingbird Foundation raises funds for children’s music education. “Phanart: The Art of the Fans of Phish” is expected sometime next fall, although Mason is still negotiating with publishers. Visit http://www.phanart.net and http://www.mbird.org for more information.
Pete Fowler is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgVail, Colorado