Life Imitates Art: Cardiac Edition


I’m really happy that my painting “Outcast” made the cover of a medical journal, my first!

Ironically a day after I saw this my husband had a horrible accident related to his heart surgery. He blacked out while running on a treadmill and was thrown. His heart stopped for about two minute and there just happened to be a nurse working out who performed CPR. He was covered in blood and that was my first experience riding shotgun in a fire truck ambulance. By the way, no one stops for ambulances in Cleveland — we were making 4-way stops the whole ride.

It’s been a hell of a week, but my husband is fine now and narrowly avoided getting a pacemaker. His heart medications was the culprit. Two stitches on the forehead, nasty tread burns are thankfully the only things he has to show for it. He has three cardiologists, now. They were impressed I had art on the cover of one of the many journals they get!

The neighbor/nurse who revived him got sent a huge bouquet today, but obviously I wish I could have sent her something from Cartier.

Biomorphic Garden Party solo exhibition at 78th Street Studios

Hey! My show is almost here! I’ve been working my tail off on it despite everything medical that has happened this summer. I’ve also ordered some fancy truffles for the opening reception with designs that look like the paintings — so it’s serious now. This is my first show of my new work and if you live in NE Ohio I hope to see you there….

Join us for the opening reception at the HEDGE gallery satellite space Suite 215 during Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios.

Friday, November 18th from 5 to 9pm 


This series brings together painter Arabella Proffer’s interests in botany, microbiology, monsters, space, disease, and the evolution of cells. Within those interests, she explores the particular roles that organisms, medicine, DNA, and hybrids play, all while creating from her imagination and instinct. Shaping aesthetic outcomes of these paintings doesn’t come from research or re-creating what already exists; she creates her own nature within these little worlds. If cells and viruses can look beautiful when magnified, what about organisms on other planets? Is there something bigger we are a part of? What will these cells look like 10 days later – what about 10 million years later? Proffer visualizes every stage of evolution from our planet and ones yet to be explored.

This exhibition is made possible by the support of the Ohio Arts Council.

Proffer’s surreal organic environments start from a place of abstraction and evolve into surroundings filled with strange hybrids of flowers and organisms. In 2010 the artist was diagnosed with a rare cancer which was crawling through her body at an alarming rate. Ironically when her oncologist showed the scans of the tumor and aggressive virus, they looked almost identical to Proffer’s most recent paintings, tentacles and all! This fascination with the macro universe and micro universe has continued through Arabella Proffer’s work — and more recently in a circumstance of life imitating art — she has battled re-occurring illness, continuing to paint what seem like familiar creatures and symbols during her recovery.

After more than a decade of being known as a figurative painter, this is the first time her new direction has come together as a solo exhibition.

The show will be up until December 28th.

Another Bullet Dodged

I’m happy to report my surgery went well and there was no spread of cancer. I did have a whole lot of critters in my abdomen and on certain organs that had to be cut out (over 30!) and the ovary, but aside from my belly button moving to a new spot (again) nothing else major happened. I’m really hoping the things don’t grow back — I can’t get cut open anymore — but I’ll have to be monitored. It seems my body likes to make cysts and other strange masses. I’m more than a little annoyed I was almost sent on my merry way and this wasn’t caught. I knew something was wrong and it still took a nudge to get proper imaging done. So for this round I’m comfortable saying that I caught this, not a doctor for once.

The big issue of why my last surgeon didn’t take care of this in 2014 was because OH NOES MENOPAUSE. Because I’m 38. Well guess what? I’m fine. More than fine. No symptoms at all, and even when I tried that hormone patch I was prescribed, I had to stop it within days because those side effects were worse than any hot flash or mood swing could possibly be. So I’ll be going the supplement and soy route to control things, rather than a drug that makes me feel awful — and causes breast cancer.

The issue of having my leg worked on once more will be dealt with in about 2 years or more. I just can’t get cut open again. It’s bad for so many reasons and I need a break. I’m lucky because I have the choice. A woman in the intake room with me had 12 surgeries in one year, and that is horrible just what it does to your immune system, but she was dying so she has no choice.

Anyway, thanks for all of your messages and emails! On my first day back to work for my one job, I returned 27 phone calls and still had time to somehow put together a last-minute grant application. And then I made some paintings for my show.


“Regent” 16×16″ oil on panel.

By the way, I’m moving in a new direction, and although I will be doing portrait commissions I won’t be doing figurative work for a while. So go check out some pieces if you feel like you have wanted something for a while. Big and tiny.

Low Down Tired Now

More than a few times in the last six years, it has gotten back to me that acquaintances or any numbers of people groaned about how they were sick of hearing about my medical ailments. How fortunate for them that I at one point went an entire year without any emergency hospital or doctor visits; how fortunate for them that more recently the attention turned to my husband who had a major heart surgery. Sure it turned out he was slowly dying (a secret the surgeon kept until the cardiologist let the cat out of the bag) and he would have been dead rather soon, but thankfully he’s doing great, now.

Trust me when I say I’m sick of hearing about my own ailments. In fact, I’m fucking exhausted. So exhausted that I’ve never had a fully functioning immune system and I never seem to get time to recover from all the things surgery does to a person. Not even six weeks out from my husband having heart surgery, was I informed I have the beginnings of cancer — this time in my ovary. The ovary that shouldn’t have been left behind when I underwent a botched hysterectomy that sent me into kidney failure. I thought I was done. I was supposed to be done. I was supposed to get an additional minor surgery on my cancer and radiation ravaged leg and that would be it, I would be done. Now I don’t know if I’ll have a straightforward operation, or if more organs will be taken. Either way, it’s a very dangerous surgery and I think the prospect has finally broken me.

Surgeries never scared me; even after the one that nearly killed me I went in like a mildly inconveinenced housewife who had to get her manicure all over again because she chipped the finish of her nails. The surgical teams and nursing staff always think I’m a tech or a nurse. I can put my own IV in if I wanted to. Many nurses remember me from previous visits because I’m usually in goth-chic attire and they ask about my cats Ike & Tina. Each time I’m rolled into the operating room, I fuck with the anesthesiologists telling them I ate a Scottish breakfast a few hours prior, and then ask them to tell me funny stories about the idiot patients who eat before surgery or have family members try to hide food in their blankets (you wouldn’t believe what people do). I know the layout of every intake room, waiting room, and hospital floor. I know what pain med cocktail works and what doesn’t. I know which gowns are itchy and suck (the DvF designed ones) and to always bring my lip balm and dry shampoo.

I can honestly say I’m finally tired. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t bring out the sunny disposition or humor and I have never felt the stress the way I do now. My hair is falling out and the thought of food is disgusting. I’m glad when I’ve gone out and socialized — I need it to feel normal — but there have been many times I just don’t want to talk or be around people. I don’t want people helping; they just get in my way. I don’t want to hear anyone moan about how stressed or tired they are from their jobs, as though it were a badge of honor. Lately I just sit in silence; I can’t even stand my beloved trash TV or Judge Judy.

My husband is forcing himself to get better faster on my account, even thought he’s still not 100% himself, but we’ve had a lot of practice. This is the second time I’m working on a solo show with a nearing deadline, while sick. Hoping I come out of this surgery alright, unlike the one in 2014. Expecting the worst is all I can do so that maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I have a lot of plans and really don’t want to change or alter them.

My apologies to those who tire of hearing about how my 30s has been a non-stop narrative about what’s wrong this time — I have bad luck, I guess.


Fruit with Melting Things: Artists I Like Right Now

Jacob van Hulsdonck




Michael Page




Eric Wert




Linsey Levendall





New Painting: Jerk


“Jerk” 12×12″ oil on panel.

This will be part of my upcoming solo show in the fall, made possible by the Ohio Arts Council.



New Painting: Tween

Tweenby Proffer

“Tween” 12×12 inches, oil on panel.

This will be part of my upcoming solo show at HEDGE Gallery’s satellite space inside 78th Street Studios this fall. It will be my first solo show of my biomorphic work I have been concentrating on.