By Rick Coates
Pammy Tinsley grew up a muse for the bullies at her school. After years of verbal torment that led to her dropping out of school, she was uncertain of her talents and purpose in life. Now at the age of 50, Tinsley has focused the creative flame within her by launching into a new career path that includes radio personality, graphic designer and artist.
An exhibition of her works will be on display during the month of May at the City Opera House in Traverse City. She will host and artist reception on Tuesday May 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. that will also feature the musical stylings of Jon and Johnny, along with DJ Nesta.
For Tinsley, her life has been about either being in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the right time. One of those right places was three years ago at a bar when she met up with WKLT Morning Show personalities Omelette & Finster.
They were at Union Street and I didnt know who they were and they started yelling over at me because I had blue hair, said Tinsley. They wanted to know who I listened to, and when I said their competition they dared me to come on their show and do the drunk girl in the corner bit.
Tinsleys first appearance on the Omelette & Finster Show typecast her as one of the shows Misfits. She continued coming on doing various stunts and even went on the week-long Misfits Trip To The Super Bowl, in which a few of the shows misfits headed to Florida to try and get on TV during the Super Bowl with no money or credit cards allowed, carrying whatever gear they could fit in a milk crate.
For the first year I was doing these radio bits and people listening thought I was some drunk, homeless misfit, laughed Tinsley. Eventually I started interning for Omelette & Finster and people around the station were shocked to learn that I went to college, had artistic talent, and was more than some drunk girl in the corner.
ROOTS IN ART
She eventually landed a weekend air personality gig with WKLT in addition to doing some production and graphic design work for the station.
As for her art, Tinsley, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills and Troy, started out at a young age.
I remember when I was really young my grandmother would have have me draw and paint to keep me busy. She had everything from chalk pastels to watercolors, said Tinsley. I use to draw like crazy.
She also took a lot of art classes in school, but for Tinsley, school would become one of those wrong places at the wrong time.
Kids were terrible to me, I have always been overweight, I was called bubbles and they bullied me, said Tinsley. I was miserable, and on top of it school bored me to death, so I dropped out.
Tinsley worked odd jobs in the Detroit area at hotels and restaurants before a friend encouraged her to move to Texas.
I landed a job with Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Texas and a friend of mine there had a husband who worked for Crayola, said Tinsley. He saw some of my drawings and one day he just handed me a bunch of paint, brushes and canvases and he told me to go paint. And I said I do not know how to paint and he said yes you do and I have been painting ever since.
After getting married to a career Navy man, Tinsely found herself in her early 30s living in Mt. Pleasant while her husband attended Central Michigan University.
It inspired me to get my GED and then I started taking a full load of classes at Mid Michigan Community College and after a year of getting a straight 4.0 I applied to Central and got in, said Tinsley. I took just a few classes before my now ex-husband was transferred to San Diego. I ended up taking some classes out there and we moved a couple of more times before I ended up in Traverse City in 2002 and eventually graduated from NMC. It took me 13 years to get a two-year degree.
While her degree is in general studies, Tinsley has taken several graphic art and design classes and has been using her talents to land freelance jobs and her work has appeared in several publications. Pursuing a career in radio and graphic design sidelined her painting.
I use to paint all the time but since starting at WKLT and doing some graphic design projects I have not painted for three years, said Tinsely. But a few months ago when I landed this exhibition it has re-motivated me to paint.
Tinsley has had her work displayed in art galleries in the past from Boston to Traverse City and has even sold some pieces.
Locally I have had my work sell at Dennos Museum and I am one of three artists who have successfully sold work after displaying it at Bubbas in Traverse City, said Tinsley. When this show came along I had very few pieces because I had not painted in several years and also I use to give a lot of work away to college students and people who couldnt afford art. So I have been busy painting and going around town and borrowing some of my work back to display.
Tinsley draws inspiration from an eclectic group of painters.
I take inspiration from painters such as Jackson Pollack, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp and many of the modern painters. I paint from my heart. I often have no preconceived idea of what I am going to paint in mind. I simply pick a color, begin painting and see what flows out. I am not a routine painter -- one who paints daily -- but I consider myself a seasonal painter who paints when inspired.
While this exhibition will not have a theme, Tinsley who prefers to work in acrylics, says that there is a reoccurring theme to her art.
Tornados, said Tinsley. I paint a lot of tornados and a lot of swirly things. Tornados are a big thing for me, I have been close to a few of them, they frighten me and they are beautiful to me at the same time. I dream about them often. Tornados also describe my personality which is very stormy, when I am around people they generally know I am there.
The Art of Pammy Tinsley will be on display during the month of May at the City Opera House in Traverse City. An artist reception will take place Tuesday May 10 from 6 to 8 pm. Additional details may be found by searching Pammy Tinsley on Facebook .