Thursday, October 29, 2020
Local artist, Chris Chinnock Pokela, creates music inspired art and will be having her first show this Thursday (Feb. 28) at the 1012 Gallery in Tomah. Herald photo by Nicole Vik.

Local artist puts music to canvas

Chris Chinnock Pokela to have first show Thursday at 1012 Gallery

Music speaks to everyone a little differently and on all sorts of levels. The artwork of local artist Chris Chinnock Pokela is all music inspired, the raw emotions a song can often solicit played out on a canvas.

Those emotions are not those of Pokela however. People will come to her with a particular song that means something to them or a favorite genre or may even narrow it down to one artist or band.

Pokela will listen to the story behind the choice and she said it oftentimes will feel like therapy for both her and her customer.

“It’s overwhelming sometimes but very healing,” she said of hearing their stories. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and this has been a very healing process for me.”

Pokela has her first show coming up this Thursday (Feb. 28) for which she has created over 20 pieces, some of which she has already sold.  

The pieces Pokela has created for the show will of course be for sale but Pokela is expecting more attendees to commission pieces of their own, which is what it’s all about for the artist.

“I would love to sell all of these pieces of course but more importantly, I want to start creating for other people what they want and what inspires them,” she said.

Pokela’s concept is all custom. A person will give her a color scheme, canvas size but most importantly the music they want her to listen to when creating their custom piece and the more details of the inspiration behind it, the better.

“It feels good to do this for other people. I’m taking other people’s inspirations and songs and creating a piece for them that means something,” Pokela said. “It’s all unique to them.”

For Pokela, who was born and raised in Tomah, music has been a huge part of her life and her family. She was a vocal performance major in college and still gives private vocal lessons.

“I’ve been musically inclined my whole entire life. I’ve painted for myself and my home but not until recently have I decided to start selling,” she said. “I started giving a few pieces away and it sort of evolved and it all just started to come out.”

Pokela just started selling her paintings in November and now, the 1012 Gallery will be hosting her first show.

“It’s new to me but it’s taken great form already and I’ve got a lot of happy people that are excited I’m doing this,” she said.

Her medium varies from oil and acrylic paint to spray paint and/or chalk paint and she does not use brushes ever. She recently created a piece for a woman who had lost her mom and used her old shirts to paint with.

More often Pokela will use old room keys or credit cards, cloth, clothing or simply her hands. “It just depends what comes to me when I’m listening to the music,” she said.

All of the paintings share titles with song names. Some of the pieces in the show include, Just Like Fire by P!nk, Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, You Say by Lauren Daigle, The Greatest Show from The Greatest Showmen, Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails, Bring Me to Life by Evanescence, Color My World by Chicago, Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and numerous others.

“There’s a lot of emotion that comes out of these pieces,” Pokela said while gazing at her artwork. “It’s good tears and good therapy.”

Pokela determines the price of her pieces based on the canvas size and the resources needed to complete the piece but more importantly it depends on the time it took her to complete it.

“One piece might take me just a song and then there’s pieces that take me a week because I have to walk away,” she explained.

For her show, Pokela has created an array of sizes while listening to a variety of music. All of the music will be playing during the show.

“It’s all about the music so if you listen to the song and stare at that piece all of a sudden it brings you in and you feel that,” she said. “Hopefully you feel that with every piece if you hear that music and hear what it’s supposed to be about.”

As a breast cancer survivor, it was important to Pokela to give something back throughout this process. At the show Thursday evening, there will be a signature drink for sale with all of the proceeds of the cocktail going to Treasured Chest, which is a local nonprofit organization making a positive difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer.

Pokela is grateful to the 1012 Gallery in Tomah for hosting her first show, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. She is both excited and nervous and she said she can’t wait to see all of the pieces hanging together.

“These are all one of a kind pieces. There are a lot of artists that will duplicate and none of these could ever be duplicated and I think that makes it unique. I love that these are custom and it’s supposed to speak to you,” Pokela said. “It incorporates a blend of everything that I am. Music is the most important piece and my artistic ability, just blending all of my passions into something, like I love doing other things for people and inspiring them by creating all of that into something like this that they can hang on their wall.”

For a sneak peak, Pokela can be found on Facebook at CJP Inspired Originals. For individuals interested in commissioning a piece, Pokela can be contacted by email at

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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