The wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle. (Janet Dickens)
You find quotes like this on the backside of many paintings by Venice artist Arleen Parker. Especially with her new Survivor Series of women wearing vibrant headdresses. A quote inspires each painting and they tell a familiar story of courage in the face of challenges. Challenges like breast cancer.
Originally from Cincinnati, Arleen discovered the joy of being creative as a child. The scraps of paper and discarded items her grandfather brought home became fine clothing for dolls. She’s been creating art ever since.
Arleen eventually moved to Atlanta where she met her husband Michael. Their obvious love for each other spans 32 years. Michael took an early retirement and the couple spent 20 years traveling to art shows mostly in the upper Midwest and Florida.
They hauled a 16-foot trailer loaded with handmade jewelry, knitwear and beautiful glass window art created by Arleen. Their business name was Serendipity Studio and their motto summarized their philosophy about life: Never Let Go of Your Dreams!
It was their time traveling through Florida that led them to buy a condo in Sarasota in 2004. They moved into their Venice home in 2014.
Life was good with lots of sunshine and a comfortable home full of art, plants and a sweet puppy named Trinket. That’s when Arleen noticed a lump in the middle of her chest. “I did a mammogram in February and it found nothing wrong, so the lump was a surprise.”
The biopsy verified Arleen had an invasive tumor. Fortunately, it was stage one, so an operation was scheduled to remove the tumor as quickly as possible. Surgery was followed by 23 radiation treatments over the following month. Her prognosis is good although a key date will be her annual mammogram.
You’ve heard the saying that you can’t keep a good man down. Well, it’s true for a good woman too. The best part of learning about Arleen was hearing Michael talk about how she responded to her challenge.
“She was a cheerleader for other patients,” he said with unmistakable pride. “She hugged and encouraged everyone.” Arleen added that connecting with fellow patients helped her cope with her own anxiety and pain. Her Survivor Series reflects the determination she witnessed in other women including that heart-centered lady looking back at her in the mirror each day. “Dealing with cancer made me more aware of the courage of women everywhere. Each painting is a celebration of our shared strength.” (Article by Randy Moore, Englewood Healthy Living and South County Healthy Living)
Editor’s Note: You can see some of Arleen’s colorful paintings at the Venice Island Gallery & Gifts at 219 W. Venice Avenue on Venice Island.