Medical Themed Art Show in Cleveland

I’m pleased to announce my next solo show is April 4th at BAYarts! I have been teaching kids classes at the beautiful BAYarts campus in Bay Village for several years now, so I’m really excited to be exhibiting there. This exhibit will depict fun stuff like amputees, ocular prosthesis, virgin goddesses, and maybe a nude or two. The irony is that I’ve been having health problems, again, and I’m due for another surgery as I’m trying to get work done for this exhibition — so it might not have as many pieces as I had planned originally. However, this is my first big solo show in Ohio since 2009, so I hope you’ll join me. Facebook invite here.

“Ephemeral Antidotes: Revisited”

April 4th – 25th, 2014

Sullivan Family Gallery @ BAYarts, Bay Village, Ohio

Opening Reception: Friday, April 4th 7pm – 9pm


In 2010 Arabella Proffer was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, and in the process of being treated, she discovered a 16th century painting of Saints Cosmas and Damian where it appeared the “cure” for her particular ailment had changed little. The result of the traumatic experience of having a section of her leg removed gave way to a new fervent interest in medical history, and is chronicled in the afflictions of her fictional female portraits.

After discovering the Dittrick Museum of Medical History was located in Cleveland she spent time doing research, and attending lectures there, that would help fuel inspiration for ways to combine this new fascination with her art. “This series was a good way for me to work out my anger and be even more thankful that what I’m going through is nothing compared to old remedies and techniques. My art and interests were in the way society lived in the past, but with emphasis on the defiant, glamorous, and eccentric. You could have been rich, important, or beautiful, but if sick you would still receive brutal or worthless treatment,” says Proffer, “but I also fell in love with old medical illustrations; they somehow made gorgeous artwork even though it depicts amputation and syphilis.”

“Ephemeral Antidotes: Revisited” explores the medical superstitions and practices of centuries past with a touch of magic realism. Continuing the theme from her 2012 solo show that took place at Loved to Death, in San Francisco, the subjects in her paintings are accompanied by a biography — all written by Proffer — highlighting the fascinating and misguided aspects of old medicine. Proffer takes inspiration from old world mannerist portraiture and medical illustrations of the 14th and 15th centuries while weaving in her own contemporary punk and goth sensibility. Done in oil on linen, her stylized subjects are bold and colorful, yet reveal a hint of the sinister.

Described as everything from neorealism to pop surrealism, her work touches on themes of identity, history, rebellion, and refinement. Earning her BFA from California Institute of the Arts, Arabella Proffer has participated in group and solo exhibitions throughout North America, Europe, parts of the Middle East, and Australia. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she has taken up residence in Laguna Beach (she went to high school there, thankfully, before the reality show), Boston, Los Angeles, and currently works from her studio in Lakewood, Ohio.

Gallery talk Wednesday, April 9th 6:30pm – 7:30pm


While You Were At Art Basel Miami

Things I did while you were at Art Basel Miami…


  • Drank Gato Negro purchased from the gas station.
  • Gave my cats a manicure.
  • Ate salad for dinner and wanted to shoot myself.


  • It was crazy-warm, so I made Lime Rickey drinks with Rum and listened to The The “Soul Mining”. Because Rum.
  • Got accepted into another juried show.
  • Finished 2 commissions.


(Winter Women, 24×30″ oil on linen)


  • Injured my leg (again) from just getting up from a desk. I dulled the pain with a shot of Jameson at Moriarty’s Bar while laughing at the desolation that is downtown Cleveland.
  • Got my hair done. Because if you think a leg mishap is stopping me from getting my hair done you are wrong!
  • Blasted Hawkwind while making cookies.
  • Went to Target and wanted to remove myself from civilization.
  • Did I mention it is winter in Cleveland?








  • Went to the Cleveland Museum of Art happy hour and paid $5 for domestic beer because it is “craft beer” after all. Got a bottle of wine from a cafeteria-style restaurant. Because I’m classy! Saw a wonderful exhibit of miniatures, and Dr. Sketchy’s do their thing.



  • Went to a book signing with a cat.
  • Dared to contradict the crazy person at the bookstore — who kept circling around yet would never purchase a book — about C.S. Lewis and his friendship with Tolkein. This person also pontificated for 10 minutes about how Milwaukee is the Venice of the United States.
  • Went to a diner and was cold.
  • Went to a cookie party and drank bourbon and then Xmas Ale. Also assisted in the making of an enchanted wiener meat forest (my 2nd time!).
  • Discussed further details about the June cat wedding that is being planned.


  • Realized today is the anniversary of me being in Cleveland for a decade.


Dirty Harry, I Am Not

Finally after all of the years of people telling me, “if you want to go shooting, just let me know” and then flaking on me: it happened, and I finally went shooting!

Friends Derek and Shannon decided we should have adventure day out on the far west side of Cleveland, taking with us what I called, “a gun buffet” of three hand guns with no safety on them: a 9mm Glock, .38 Special, and a .44 Magnum. Shannon and I actually went with a basket to the store and bought the bullets — it was quite enlightening. I witnessed firsthand some bangers getting shown a few small pieces. Judging by the one womans tattoos, she was not in need of a small firearm to fit in her purse because she just needed to feel safe. I think she was getting it for someone else. Oh America.

Anyways. In all the 8 years I have been here, yesterday was my first time to ever visit the city of Lorain. Remember when I told you about Youngstown? Well, Lorain is so much worse. Even the unemployment office was empty and looked looted. Really, the whole town looks like the zombie apocalypse happened. Don’t ever go there. Unless you want to shoot at an indoor range.

I’ll admit the experience was a bit scary in that all of these pieces had no safety, and could go off, but I had a nice little tutorial before we went anywhere. The kick is hard to control, but I did well in the beginning because I wasn’t over-thinking things. The 38 is my gun; I like it and it likes me. Old fashioned, smokey, and explosive.

The 9mm, I was “eh” about except for the fact it could hold 16 rounds. The 44 had a scope on it which made aiming super easy, but dangit, that thing is too loud and heavy for me and my dainty little wrists. I only took a couple shots (good ones at least) before putting it down and said, “this is a gun for a man”. The thing partially torn my index fingernail — I was bleeding! Dirty Harry, I am not. Maybe with enough practice I could be, but shooting is a very expensive hobby! Oh well, at least now I’m confident enough that if I had to, I could really mess someone up so long as I have a light enough gun for my girlie sissy-pants hands. Hey, I can’t physically run or jump, so when the zombie apocalypse comes (minus the one that already happened in Lorain) I have to think about these things. My husband is learning some combat and choke holds, so you would totally want us on your team when the end of the world happens.

My Cleveland Art Happenings

Here is a link to Joanne Renaud’s Artist of the Month interview about art and music and writing, too.

I’ll be having a Cleveland-area book release party for “The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa: The Art of Arabella Proffer” at Loganberry Books on Wednesday, April 11th beginning at 7pm. There will be in informal talk/reading as well as a few portraits on display. Buyers get a free mini-print with purchase!

Cleveland Area Happenings

  • Friday, March 9th, 7-9pm @ BAYarts Faculty Show in the Dianne Boldman Gallery, Bay Village, OH. The theme is water, so I did something just for this exhibit.
  • Sunday, March 25th, 3-5pm “From Woman” juried exhibition @ Lakeland Community College art gallery, Kirtland, OH.
  • Thursday, April 5th Monster Drawing Rally @ SPACES, Cleveland, OH. This could get interesting!
  • Wednesday April 11th, book party, 7-9pm @ Loganberry Books, 13015 Larchmere Blvd, Cleveland, OH.
  • Saturday, April 28th The 10th Annual ArtCares benefit @ MOCA. The VIP reception will begin at 6:30pm, and the party and auction will begin at 8pm. I gave them something kind of awesome for this, and she’s slutty!

My First Trip to Youngstown

Or rather, my last. Have you ever been? God I hope not. I only spent roughly 24 hours there and in many of the outer suburbs and I can honestly say I have no desire to go back.

My husband entered the Youngstown Peace Race, a race that has been nationally known for decades. I had heard The Butler Institute of American Art was amazing, so I figured this would be a nice excuse to stay over the weekend and do those wacky, crazy, silly, quirky trips my husband and I do every so often. I thought we had learned to make any day trip fun, no matter the destination. Wrong! The Butler Institute closed at 4pm on a Saturday, so I never got a chance to visit. I then proceeded to drive around several outer suburbs where the houses were nice enough, the trees were gorgeous, and the main drags looked typical of most American cities littered with car dealerships and a Pizza Hut every so often — Pizza Hut looking the cleanest out of all the Cash for Gold stores and abandoned strip malls with weeds growing from cracks in the parking lots.

It was hard to find a nice restaurant anywhere. In fact, we couldn’t even find an Outback Steakhouse or Chili’s when desperation set in. When going online to find something with good reviews, I found a lot of recommendations for the Applebee’s. We drove downtown, all dressed up, thinking there might be something, a hidden gem, or a strip of amazing places the way Grand Rapids, Michigan, surprised us. Nothing was to be had. One brew pub seems ok until the smell hit us as we walked in. The areas we drove around were downright scary, if not completely abandoned. On occasion there would be an Italian eatery that was clearly a front for some kind of dicey operation — nothing too welcoming. Just me taking photos around the area caused a lot of weird drifter types to yell at me, “what the fuck are you doing?” and “hey girl, come here!”. Maybe I was missing something? Maybe I happened upon 4 or 5 of the worst areas of town by accident?

America is beautiful…

So my husband and I did something we had never done before. He in his black velvet blazer and nice shoes; me in my designer clothes, French perfume, and pashmina wrap. We went to an Eat ‘n Park. I never felt so glamorous as sitting there at an Eat ‘n Park getting stares as I ate whatever microwaved entree I had ordered. The food wasn’t too terrible, actually.

At least I can say our Fairfield Inn was very nice and mod. I’m glad I chose to stay there versus the Econolodge next door that looked like a brothel. Well actually, it kind of was because it was next to this truck stop…

A trucker’s paradise to be sure. I wondered what kind of quality product works at a truck stop by Youngstown, Ohio. The best!

In any event, the race was Sunday, it was all fine and good. A lot of people from around the country come to the race because of the prize money. My husband was 2nd in his age group — he’s kind of a stud. Walking around was a tad depressing, though. All of the nicer buildings that hadn’t been abandoned were all banks. All of them. One even had blood strewn across the door. A sign of the times.

Fake blood, that is…

So….yeah. If I do go again, I’ll stick to the Butler Institute and be sure to come right back home. It’s only an hour drive, after all.

The Other Museums of Ohio

Oh sure, you can visit MOCA, The Cleveland Museum of Art, go see Balto stuffed and on display, or visit any number of Hall of Fames in this god forsaken state — and why not? Sure they’re great, you could go and do that. However, if you are a fan of road trips, the bizarre, kitsch, or just have super specific interests that you are certain no one else has — you are in luck. Ohio has a lot of weird collections on display for public consumption! Here are some of the “other” museums on my list…

If you find yourself on the way to Cedar Point or the Erie Islands, you can check out the Merry-Go-Round Museum. No, not the clothing store from the 1980s! I mean actual carousels.

Alliance, Ohio now has The Feline Historical Museum. It is brand new, and I know some of you crazy cat people are curious to check it out. 260 E. Main St., Alliance , Ohio. It’s free!

Also in Alliance is a bizarre favorite and something to behold. The Troll Hole! They have a cafe and gift shop of course, but there is a waterfall, a grotto, and children get their own doll to hold during the tours.

Canton is a horrible and awful place, but if you do go, check out the weirdness that is the Canton Classic Car Museum. My husband and I spent part of an afternoon here looking for Johnny Carson’s DeLorean (which was sold off) and I can tell you this place is bizarre. Lots of non-car related artifacts, toys, and collectibles combined with an array of hood ornaments and funeral cars. It’s kind of fun.

If that doesn’t do the trick and you still need to keep yourself busy in Canton — city of the former HQ of the Hoover company — you can visit The Vacuum Cleaner Museum. Um, yeah.

If you venture down to Cincinnati, there is the American Sign Museum. See, you don’t have to go all the way to Vegas for the Neon Graveyard after all (which is never open when I’ve gone anyways!). I am a lover of signage and Americana, so I may have to venture to this place next time I’m in Cincy.

The Harris Dental Museum. I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t feel pain or mind going to the dentist. “Is that all you got?” is what I said after my last root canal. So if you aren’t afraid of the dentist — or the creepy little house the museum is housed in — you might enjoy this place.

Of course there is the new Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood Ohio that I recently visited.


The Dittrick Museum of Medical History Located at Case Western in Cleveland, it is a great place for research, lectures, and old medical illustrations through the centuries. This is one of my favorite places in Cleveland! According to the illustration below, if you are a young man who touches himself, you will get ill and start wearing a turban (those French people in the 1700s sure were wacky)


The Bicycle Museum. Hey, I know the whole fixed gear bike thing is all the rage. Bike messengers and tweed ride fetishists are sure to get excited about this one!

The Wyandot Popcorn Museum, some people are nutty about their popcorn, and here is a place to see vintage machines among other popcorn related items.

Barber Museum and Hall of Fame Apparently it has lots of cool old chairs, signs, and blades. It would have been funnier if this were located in Barberton.

And there you have it!

The Divine Statues of Cleveland

I made a quick trip with my friend Camilla to the newly opened Museum of Divine Statues. It is a beautiful space, with fun eerie ambient music, a gift shop, and the layout and design of the exhibition is pretty fabulous.

I wasn’t raised Catholic or anything, but lately I’ve been into images of the virgin Mary, so I thought I’d come and take a look. All of these statues and candle holders had been donated when the Diocese of Cleveland started to shut down various churches. The restoration is due to a make-up artist! The perfect lip gloss and eye shadow job on Joan of Arc and many other saints kind of makes it obvious. All restoration is done on site and you can watch as it happens, which is pretty cool.

Right now the museum is only open on Sundays, but they are planning to expand with a coffee shop downstairs. I give it an A+

Seven Years in Cleveland

This month marks 7 years since I decided I couldn’t handle L.A. anymore and moved to Cleveland. It was a mildly impulsive choice, but everything fell into place at the right time for it to happen. I never thought I would end up living in Ohio! People always seem to think I was from here originally, or had family, or had some obligation as to why I came here. Nope. I just visited a few times, knew some people and liked it. Many are still perplexed that I would move here by choice or because I felt like it.

Are there things that bother me about Cleveland? Oh hell yes, but nothing beyond the same number of complaints my husband and I had about Boston, or Orange County, or L.A. to be honest — just different complaints. The wasted potential is my main gripe. Why on earth is there still nothing cool on the waterfront?! Is anything ever gonna get built there?! And when are people gonna stop complaining about losing manufacturing jobs? Can’t there be a new industry to move on to? I don’t like the traffic cops here, and normally I don’t mind cops at all. The city government is so inept it is astounding how anything even gets done. Also, how the hell did the Rock Hall manage to screw up CMJ Fest like that? There are major music festivals in the desert, in the mountains, and in odd places yet Cleveland can’t get its shit together to host an annual one? There’s also the provincial attitudes that I find painful to endure (just watch the local news, it is so quaint!), but I’ve been good at finding the groups of people who are progressive, creative, and worldly. Selling art in Cleveland isn’t easy for instance, it does happen, but not the same volume as some places. But this is why I exhibit all over and use Cleveland as a home base. The Harvey Pekar or Drew Carey Show side of Cleveland is very much alive and well, but that is only one side.

In fact, there’s a number of transplants from major cities that I’ve met over the years; I don’t know why the national media is doing stories about New Yorkers fleeing for Cleveland in recent months, because it has been happening slowly since I’ve been here. They all moved here for the same reasons I did: better quality of life. When I say that, I mean being able to actually go out and enjoy things because you can afford to — little things and big. Just count the number of pro-Cleveland blogs, my favorite site being Cleveland Memory Project. Heck, you can even go on Twitter now and see a hashtag for #HappyinCLE. It is different for everyone I suppose. My husband and I have always had a bad case of wanderlust, so the fact that we are still here speaks volumes. Every time we think about moving somewhere, it just never seems to happen or we can’t decide on what benefits there would actually be beyond maybe nicer weather. Cold and snow don’t bother me, just the darkness in winter. I’m not opposed to moving if something awesome came up or was offered, but it would take another clusterfuck to get me to sell everything and drive cross-country again in the hurry we did when we came here. I guess it is good we stayed, if I hadn’t been near Cleveland Clinic this year I don’t know what I would have done. Truthfully, I’d probably be dead by spring.

I’d probably still really like L.A. if I were rich and had a house in the hills or somewhere away from people where I didn’t have to drive. I tell you, I had the best time in L.A. when I went home for a visit. A visit, not to live. A big difference — mainly that I didn’t have to drive (except on the 405 when I got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half). I still couldn’t wait to get back to Cleveland; SoCal suburbs are just as ugly to me as snow covered rustbelt industry. So when people ask why the hell I live in Cleveland still, I can pretty much give you a short list off the top of my head:

  • My fabulous apartment in a gorgeous hood with utilities included and underground parking only just now went up to $700 a month.
  • The commute to my husband’s job downtown is 6 minutes.
  • the fact we’ve been surviving on just one of us working, or both of us working part-time.
  • I have a huge art studio for less than $100 a month.
  • I have time for my art.
  • The Cleveland Art Museum, and it’s free!
  • The Cleveland Clinic, where I had the best rock star surgeon for my type of surgery in, um, the entire world! Also I had an anesthesiologist who sorta looked like Sam Elliot once. That was nice.
  • The restaurants are amazing and I can actually afford to go to them.
  • The amount of grants for individuals and organizations.
  • Traveling distance to other cities is in close proximity. Weekends in Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, DC and the like are easy.
  • The Metro Park system.
  • There’s a venue for every niche; different movie theaters,  record stores, concert venues, bars, and art galleries all serving a particular sub-culture of some sort.
  • The lack of chains. Unless you go out to the ‘burbs, everything is independently run for the most part.

As much as a complain about the things I consider stupid about this town, I’d actually be kind of bummed if it became too much of a “hipster haven” or overrun with more yuppies. I sort of like it being a well-kept secret; I like having the feeling that the city is all mine and I can run amok! Let’s face it Cleveland, you piss me off sometimes, but after 7 years I still kind of like you.

Rocktober Recap

Because Rocktober isn’t finished yet, I thought I’d post some photos from the Oktoberfest event I attended in Berea, Ohio. Was it better than the Minster one? By far. Was it better than what I assume the real one in Munich is like? Not really. Although the beer selection at this event was better than most, I thought the Warstiener was overpriced, and that the fair itself was actually half the size of what I assumed it would be.

Bonus points though for seeing children and various Emo kids on multiple occasions sipping beer from their elderly relatives cups that they were “holding” while they went and danced or entered their dogs in the races.  Yes, the wiener dog races were the highlight; who knew it could be fun and that placing bets makes it even MORE fun? FYI, older dogs are better at it than the new pups, they just kind of sniff each other and wander off when the gates go up. Oh here, lemme show ‘ya…

A very big deal as you can tell. The dogs needed several practice runs to get the hang of it if they were new. All the owners had to stand at the end with toys and treats to get them to bolt.

No participation ribbons here!

Dotto Snotto sticking her tongue out at me whilst making up some German fare.













Really not THAT big of a fan of HB, sorry.

Jager Bombs? Oh I know it is noon, but why not?


Really sad we missed the craft brew tasting, but I guess I’ve had all of these ones right here more than a dozen times. Look, they even put out the beer named after my buddy Chris!

The polka band here performed both Johnny Cash and Dead or Alive in Polka-style. Not. Even. Joking.

Big ass tent.

Ben likes monkeys, not matter what the situation.

Hey look, there’s Dennis! He invited me to go drinking with him once and I had to turn him down. I tried flagging him over to our table but Ben didn’t want him to come over for some political reason.

I like Riesling!

Overall I give the event a B-. The entertainment was good, the beer selection was meh, and there was only one good food stand. Even trying to find a proper pretzel stand was tough, and I don’t understand that, being that there was Chinese and Italian food stands!  Come on people, Oktoberfest means let’s try to keep it Magna Germania, okay? I also got sick from a greasy potato pancake, but that’s what I get for eating anything from a fairground stand. Again though, the dog races made it worth it. Oh, and did I mention there were multiple Juggalo sightings? Why yes there were. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get photos. Don’t know what a Juggalo is? Well this might help (NSFW)

Last Minute Market

I wasn’t sure I’d be in town, but looks like I will be here for the Cleveland Handmade Last Minute Market, taking place at the Screw Factory. If you missed the open studios on November 7th, come on down and get some gifts or just poke and see what we have going on. There will be vendors as well as other artists in the buildings opening their doors.

Together with our friends, IMadeIt! Market and The Screw Factory Artists, Cleveland Handmade is once again enabling, and even encouraging, holiday shopping procrastination.

The Last Minute Market will be a wonderfully unique shopping destination with more than 50 regional artists and craftspeople. In addition, artists whose studios are in the building will open their doors to offer a peek at their workspace and an opportunity to purchase their work. Don’t miss this Market!

December 19, 2009 10am-6pm
Lake Erie Building at Templar Industrial Park 13000 Athens Ave. Lakewood, Ohio 44107