AP Artists take to the senior center again for the award-winning annual field trip and exhibit “Beauty in Age”


Junior Cheryl Cai and senior citizen Millie Dusha converse over Cai’s mixed media portrait, “Millie”

Serena Shen and Brandon Shi

The San Ramon Alcosta Senior Center is currently hosting the fourth annual “Beauty in Age” Exhibit, an exhibition of DV AP Studio Art students’ portraits of senior citizens they interview, photograph and draw. The project received national recognition from the College Board last year, winning first place and a grant of $7000 for a contest for the best community outreach program for artists.


Though this year’s turnout was fairly small, the student and seniors were generally grateful to have participated.


Nick Taddeo, a senior citizen whose portrait was painted by sophomore Crystal Liu, was satisfied with the result, beaming as he said, “I liked meeting Crystal and sharing about myself … I would participate again next year.”


Liu agreed, saying, “Mr. Taddeo was a very knowledgeable and thoughtful person … Due to his love for reading, I decided to incorporate a few books on a table in the background of his portrait. I made the books look vintage and worn down as to represent the number of times they were read by him. Ultimately, I wanted this portrait to represent Nick Taddeo’s wisdom and kindness.”


This incorporation of symbolic elements — from books to flowers to music — representing the subject’s personality was a common theme throughout. Yet while the pieces of art had a lot in common, they differed greatly in size, medium, and approach. Artworks ranged from small, photorealistic watercolor to large, painterly acrylic portraits.


The AP artists presented the meaningful intents behind their portraits at a reception on Feb. 2 in the Senior Center, marking the beginning of the exhibit. They took turns sharing the inspirational lessons they gleaned from hearing their senior citizens’ stories.


Senior Brandon Cruz noted, “[My subject’s] passion for painting inspired me, making it my intent to capture her warm essence through digital painting.”


San Ramon City Visual and Performing Arts Recreation Coordinator Suzy Chow, who helped organize the event, emphasized that “Beauty in Age” is a great partnership with the city and a great opportunity for the kids. It is more than just an exhibit, it is a process … process of learning about somebody, and looking beyond who someone is at that moment in time, making art with more liveliness and realism than just oranges on a table. Students bring realism to art and relate it to the real world.”


AP Art teacher Mrs. Kelsey Wengel, though currently on maternity leave, also attended the event and noted that “each year is unique” due to “little bits of spunk and personality … This year’s results are wonderful.”


The works will be displayed through the month of February at the Alcosta Senior Center.