Tag Archives: painting

An Interview with Christopher “Captain Pookie” Pike, On His Phish Based Paintings

Christopher Pike began a thread on Phish.net a few years ago offering his painting skills to create pieces of art based on interpretations of Phans favorite shows, or personal show experiences. Soon thereafter, there was a long line generating for everyone who wanted their experiences laid down on canvas. He just donated one of his painting to the Barefoot Bob Memorial, showing his compassion for this community. I recently sat down with him to pick his brain about his work. His name is Chris Pike, better known as Captain Pookie.

Barefoot Bob Memorial Donation
Barefoot Bob Memorial Donation

Chris Stowell: How long have you been painting?

Captain Pookie: I started painting 13 years ago. I had just moved home to Watkins Glen after spending a portion of the ’90’s in Asheville. The change on environment was a little shocking and I found myself bored and a little blue. I was at the store one day and bought a canvas and some cheap acrylic paints on a lark. I was probably stoned at the time.

CS: Wow, it’s amazing what a change in environment can do. Are there any other mediums you work with, either with paint, or without?

CP: For sure. I’ve always had creative outlets since my earliest memories. I was raised in an environment that was very supportive of expression of creativity. I can play 5 different instruments and have played in bands regularly since the eight grade. I’ve always written fictitious stories – that’s probably what I’ve done the longest. My first novel was published in 2005. Really, there isn’t any medium I won’t tackle, but music, writing and painting get all of my time.

CS: Your book is still on my reading list. Alright, time to get a little Phishy, then we will get back to your works of art. When did you start listening to Phish, and what was your first show?

CP: Well, the first time that I HEARD Phish was sometime in 1995. I was hanging out at my best friends house and A Live One had just been released and he was playing it. I remember really liking Bouncing’ and Stash, but for whatever reason… perhaps for no reason at all I never got that into them at that time. Which is a drag because my friends were going to so many great Phish events like Clifford Ball, lots of 95, 96 and 97 shows. I turned down a ticket to the Fleezer show for Christ’s sake. My head was just in a different musical space at the time, which I don’t regret at all because what I was onto was very fulfilling and uplifting to me. So Really, I’m a 3.0 noob. My first show was Fenway in April 09.

Star Lake 2012
Star Lake 2012

CS: Alright, back to your painting. What made you decide to start doing Phish inspired paintings? Other than your love for the band, of course

CP: I’ve always reacted to music, and emotional stimuli in general, in two very specific ways. One is that I will fell a sensation that my body is changing shape. It manifests mostly in my face. It’s like an invisible force is pulling gently on my flesh and my insides. I also see color patterns…like I really SEE them. I’ve never been one to close my eyes at any bands performance, but if the band gets going at a good clip, or falls into some deep mind groove my vision tends to blur and I just sort of find myself in this dimension of puddles of colors that are reacting to the sounds being made. I think it may be my mind’s response to the elation the music brings me. Anyway, eventually I started painting approximations of what I would see while listening to music at home.

CS: It’s clear how much the music influences your work in that sense. So I’ve noticed that there are a few themes incorporated in to your work. What are they and what do they represent? The eye in specific.

CP: Yeah, the eye. Eyes have always made appearances in my work. And I’m not sure I’ve ever thought, “I shall paint an eye here for this reason.” I don’t necessarily lump myself into the surrealist movement, but the surrealists have a conceptual tool they use called Automatism, or Automatic Drawing where they draw unconsciously, doing their best to just allow their hand to create something where the next movement is informed only by the one before it, as opposed to getting one pre-determined image onto paper. It’s similar to how I paint. I usually only ever start with one shape or a flow of one particular color and then each step is created in light of the previous with no conscious reason. I think I might be hesitant to pry apart my psyche and find reasons why certain symbols are there. I’d rather just feel any emotion that an artistic piece emits as opposed to analyzing it.

CS: I totally understand not prying apart your psyche. That was way more in depth than I expected. Thank you so much for opening up about that. When a client approaches you to do a painting for them, what kind of questions do you ask them, or do you just ask for a show they are inspired by?

Pookie Bethel Blessing
Bethel 2011

CP: Well it starts with them wanting me to paint a specific show that means something to them, whether it was their first show or whether there is an intense emotional memory tied to it. I like for them to give me as much back-story as they are willing to so I can get an idea of the emotional and mental space they were in that day. I’ve done some painting for people that had very heavy reasons behind them. Certainly several for people who have lost loved ones or close friends and they want me to memorialize a show they were at with that person. It’s pretty heavy when people open parts of themselves that deep and raw for me to see. It’s really daunting to feel like I need to do something like that visual justice. It can be emotionally overwhelming a lot of times and a few times I’ve gotten teary-eyed having their story in my mind of just a gorgeous summer day and these kids driving across the country having belly laughs with their friends that they love with all their hearts and for one tragic reason or another they lose those friends and have these beautiful memories that they entrust me to do justice to. Then I listen to the show and try to “to tap in” as honestly as I can while painting it.

CS: These paintings hold so much value to their owners, that’s for sure. So where can people go to get their own painting?

CP: They can email me at cbpike@hotmail.com or message me at Captain Pookie on Phish.net I’m always interested in painting. Thanks for being interested!

Jones Beach 2009
Jones Beach 2009



Shane Smykla and an Amazing Trey Canvas Painting

Sometimes the youngest phans are well, noobs, sometimes they are cool, and sometimes they blow your mind. Shane Smykla from Ballston Spa is a 15 year old high school student and Phish fan. Completing this canvas print under the tutelage of Jeremy LebeDiker, his art teacher and fellow Phish fan (art from Jeremy coming soon).

Shane got into the Grateful Dead before he started listening to Phish. He fell in love with the band after watching Bittersweet Motel at a friends house after and Allman Brothers/Doobie Brothers show. So far Shane has only seen Phish once, on 8/16/09 at SPAC. (Great first show!) More shows are in the future for Shane this summer.

The painting measures 24″ x 36″ and is done ‘Acrylic Jazz style’ on canvas. He spent a month and a half completing the work. Shane is asking for $160 for this painting, or best offer. You can email him to work out a price for the painting. (shanesmykla@yahoo.com)

10% of the final sale price will benefit The Mockingbird Foundation.

CrazyRedBeard, aka Jon Blake – Live Painting PhanArtist

Jonathon Blake, also known by his stage name CrazyRedBeard, is an independent artist that currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia. Largely self taught, Blake primarily creates paintings in live music settings to many different types of bands up and down the east coast and beyond. Inspired by watching the New Orleans live painter, Frenchy while attending Particle’s late night set at Bonnaroo 2, Blake went home with a vision of attempting this style of creation in his own unique fashion.

Me at New Deal Melanie J Barnum
Painting live with The New Deal 3/21/09

Since his first live painting with the DJ Williams Projekt in Richmond, VA, Blake has worked with many and varying artist including Particle, the Everyone Orchestra featuring Jon Fishman, U-Melt, The Heavy Pets, The Juggling Suns, EOTO, Perpetual Groove, Lotus, Tea Leaf Green, Buzz Universe, Orchard Lounge, Biodiesel, The Breakfast, The Ryan Montbleau Band, Natural Breakdown, The McLovins, Basshound and many, many others.

Painting Live with Particle 4/21/07

Painting Live with Particle 4/21/07

Jon’s prints as seen in the gallery below are all available for sale.  You can check them out also on his site – crazyredbeard.com

All other prints seen here and on his site are matted and framed prints, measure 10 x 13 and are safely wrapped and packaged in boxes. All of thePhish related posters are 14 x 20. Framed and matted prints are $60 + shipping/handling. All posters are printed on 4/0 100# glossy text paper. Posters are all mailed in postal tubes.


Jon is running a special on his remaining Hampton reunion prints.  They are $15 each or $40 for all three. Additionally, he is also running a special on the Hampton 3/6/09 setlist poster for $15.

The Hampton triptychs are limited edition, signed and numbered (306 for night 1, 307 for night 2 and 308 for night 3). The Hampton setlist poster is signed by the artist.


Hampton night 1

Hampton night 2

Hampton night 3

If you are interested in the larger giclees or multiple prints, we suggest that you contact Jon directly at crazyredbeard@hotmail.com With the holidays upon us, deals are to be had and made, so do not hesitate to contact Jon.

Check out the art Jon Blake has for sale as prints, posters or the original piece of art itself!

Driven by the immediacy of the live music environment, Blake attempts to channel the energy, emotion and feeling of the moment, highlighting an interconnectivity of seemingly unrelated or unrelatable objects. Described by fans as “Dali and a graffiti artist in a blender” and “Picasso on acid,” Blake creates largely abstract, yet formative works that are often highly psychedelic in nature.

Having exhibited in NYC, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and at festivals all across the country, Blake feels blessed and thankful for the adventure, friends and music that the life as a live artist has provided. He hopes to share his art with as many people as possible and for many years to come.

Visit crazyredbeard.com and pick up some amazing live art today!