Tammy ToJ Gajewski, BFA, MPA
Oil painter, Ceramics, Watercolors, Assemblages, Poet, dog lover.
"I take a little bit from everything I know and see and make art to make people smile. Life is too short to not have art."
Tammy was born in Milwaukee, WI to second generation immigrant hippies who encouraged her expressive style. When not in school she was at the family farm in McAllister, WI milking cows, building forts in the swamp, getting chased by bears, and learning the secrets of a good cook. Graduating from Crivitz High School in 1982 she received a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she studied under Walter Nottingham and Keiko Hara. She finally left school after they told her she had taken all the classes.
The late 80s brought the Aids epidemic to the Midwest and Tammy spent her time helping at the Aliveness Project in Minneapolis, MN. She helped bring the Aids Memorial Quilt to the Metro- dome in 1991. In the early 1990’s she left Minnesota to move to Michigan to take care of her mother who refused to move back to the city. She found work with the Michigan Department of Corrections and stayed here due to the beauty of the Upper Peninsula even though the job was hard.
In 2003 Tammy took a ceramics class from John Brookhouse at Finlandia University because she needed six credits in psychology to promote at work. She found that she really loved getting back into clay. A few years later she competed her Master’s degree from Northern Michigan University in Public Administration.
After 23 years in prison, Tammy finally left and has started doing her art full time. She built her studio at her retirement home on Rabbit Bay. She has become prolific in production of unique lake inspired assemblages, wildlife watercolors, oil paintings of mining buildings and ceramics.
She has taught art at CCCAC in Hancock for 15 years and hopes to offer more classes at CCAC in the future.
I make art because I have to express my inner self and give it to others to create more joy in the world. I am inspired by Lionel Fenninger, Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyatt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Alfred Durer. I studied the Anasazi Indians while in college and continually evaluate man’s interaction with nature and architecture. I also studied in Paris and was amazed by the architecture hundreds of years older than the Anasazi. Everywhere I have lived there has been out houses. My mom said my paintings reminded her of walking out houses. People see what they are familiar with from their own experiences in my art. I am a recycler of things I find and use second hand frames as much as possible. If I see something inspiring, I paint it. If I find interesting drift wood on the beach, I make something from it. I take a little bit from everything I know and see and make art to make people smile. Life is too short to not have art.