Uptown residents part of ‘positive portrayal of aging’ photo exhibition
Morgan M. Hurley | SDUN Assistant Editor
with Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Senior Community Centers (SCC), a 42-year-old nonprofit that focuses on the health and safety of San Diego’s senior community, held a first-time fundraising event on Oct. 11, featuring over 30 black and white portrait photographs of aging and vibrant San Diegans.
Uptown residents Deborah Szekely and Bill Walton were included in the exhibit, which was called “Notes to our Sons & Daughters.” Szekely is the founder of Golden Door Spa and lives in Mission Hills. Walton, a former NBA all-star basketball player and professional basketball announcer, lives in Hillcrest.
The Oct. 11 fundraiser was held from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier in Downtown. Event Chair Molly Cartmill oversaw preparations for the evening, which had over 400 attendees and raised more than $320,000 to support SCC’s efforts of promoting a positive and healthy portrayal of aging. Darlene Shiley served as honorary chair and was also featured in the exhibit.
Other community members in the exhibit included Jerry Coleman of the San Diego Padres; José Galicot, founder and director of Tijuana Inavadora; Constance Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District; and County Supervisor Ron Roberts.
Escondido photographer Philipp Scholz Rittermann took the portraits, and met with organizers a year prior to joining the project last December. The exhibition is meant to combat ageism by bringing out the “wisdom” of each subject, celebrating their beauty, talents and accomplishments.
Brent Wakefield, SCC vice president of development, said when Rittermann met with SCC CEO and president, Paul Downey, “things really started to take shape,” and a great deal of thought was put into the selection process.
“We first started to look at seniors in San Diego who give back and who are known for their connection either to the arts or human services areas,” Wakefield said. “We applied the same criteria to the seniors we serve. They give back and are leaders in our community of seniors.”
Also included with each photograph at the exhibition was a 90-second video of the “note” shared by each subject at the photo sessions, Wakefield said, identifying the life lessons they learned and wish to pass on to “our collective children.”
“Happy Days” sitcom-legend Marion Ross was not only the “mistress of ceremonies” for the event, but also one of the photographic subjects. Ross joined the project in February after meeting with Wakefield and educating herself about SCC’s mission.
“She felt that nutrition of seniors is one of the most vital pieces, and when she heard that ‘food is medicine’ in our world and [about] our emphasis on nutrition, she was sold,” Wakefield said.
Ritterman directed the “Notes” reception and the unveiling of the photographs, and was on hand with all the exhibition’s subjects to discuss the process with the evening’s attendees.
“Notes to our Sons & Daughters” has been made into a coffee-table book, which was available at the event. The photographs will become a traveling exhibit throughout San Diego County.