Tana Johnoff opened the Alley Cat Arts Studio in Whitehouse in 2019, a dual-purpose studio that functions as both a workspace for Tana and a workshop space for classes. Alley Cat is the third studio Tana has opened in the Toledo area. Her first studio was in an alley in Perrysburg and her second was downtown, leading to the name Alley Cat for this third iteration, denoting a wandering artist. “I wanted a place to welcome students for artistic experiences,” Tana said.
Tana has offered drawing, painting, needle felting, macrame, moss art, soap making and 3-D building at her studios. “I tailor my classes to the needs of the student group…if you want to learn something, I will do my best to make it happen,” she said.
During the school year, Tana is a full-time art teacher with Toledo Public Schools. “As with most artists, it took me a while to find my artistic voice, so teaching provided me with a stable income,” she explained.
A vehicle for healing
“Art has really been the only constant in my life. It has been a lifeline when I needed it most,” Tana said. She added that her goal is to pass that lifeline on to others in their time of need.
“Most of my students, despite their age, are searching for some sense of value or their inner voice. Many have experienced or are experiencing a feeling of being off balance and, in many cases, acute or chronic trauma,” Tana explained.
Striving to provide a safe space for her students to be heard, through listening to their stories or providing a space to produce art when words seem inadequate, Tana is passionate about the transformative nature of art, describing it as a “vehicle through which one can heal.”
“Trauma changes a person. The arts can help those individuals find their way back home to who they were before that negative experience,” Tana said, as she is currently working on a book and online course entitled Cutting the Cord of Trauma: Turning Pain into Purpose, about healing from trauma using art experiences and other reflective practices.
Background and foreground
Tana is primarily a painter, but has ventured into other mediums and offerings in order to “reach a larger demographic and gain more exposure.”
“Painting tends to be very personal to an audience and therefore the market can be a bit tricky– especially since my paintings are usually large and very colorful…I found that if I sold jewelry and smaller unique items in addition to teaching studio classes, I could grow my business and, in turn, my artistic presence,” Tana described.
Consigning with several local boutiques and creating art for juried events throughout the year, in addition to painting, Johnoff also makes jewelry, hand-painted clothing, and French toile purses. Her pieces are currently available at Angel 101 in Perrysburg, Hip to the Groove in Sylvania, Art and Soul at the downtown library, and the Artisan Co-Op in Waterville.
Alley Cat Art Studio is located at 6538 Lenderson Ave. in Whitehouse. View Tana’s portfolio and see details about upcoming classes and events at facebook.com/alleycatarts.