Photos put focus on cancer patients and supporters
An Upper Arlington teacher and photographer will team with Spinelli's Deli and Columbus entertainer Vivian Von B next month to raise awareness and money for cancer patients, survivors and supporters.
Frank Tuttle was attending Upper Arlington High School when his first up-close brush with cancer ended in the loss of a friend and swimming teammate to leukemia.
Many years later, Tuttle, a science teacher for the past 16 years at Upper Arlington High School and a former teacher at Dublin and Dublin Scioto high schools, remains an ardent ally of cancer patients, as well as those who provide care and support to them.
On Nov. 7, Tuttle will unveil a series of portrait photos he's taken to put a face on cancer as part of an exhibit called "Survivors, Fighters and Supporters."
An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Spinelli's Deli, 767 Neil Ave., Columbus, with free food and beverages. It will introduce guests to the exhibit, which will run through the end of this year, and provide them with opportunities to learn more about cancer support resources.
Additionally, Spinelli's will serve as a fundraising center. Contributions through the end of the year will benefit Kobacker House, a 24-bed hospice center located on 10 acres behind the McConnell Heart Health Center. The facility offers round-the-clock medical care and grief support/education programs in a nature-preserve setting.
"These are portraits of ordinary people," Tuttle said. "In some cases, they're couples and in some cases, they're families.
"It is the human side of life, which really was my intent. Everybody knows someone who has been affected by cancer ... and this really shows that everybody can be there for someone else."
At the opening reception, guests can have their photos taken alongside Vivian Von B, a celebrated Columbus drag queen. For a donation, they can take an 8-by-10-inch print home.
"Cancer is an ugly disease," Von B said. "We want to show others that there are survivors, and that there are people who care and want to help."
Additionally, Spinelli's president and owner Joe Spinelli, who himself will be featured in the exhibit, will be on hand.
"I have an art space on my wall," said Spinelli, who's operated the deli at its Victorian Village location for nearly 18 years. "I really thought one of the things we don't ever do is highlight the caretakers.
"(Frank, Vivian and I) thought, 'Why don't we bring some awareness to Kobacker?' but we also wanted to inspire people through the artwork."
Spinelli lost his mother to pancreatic cancer seven years ago and said he's watched numerous friends and family members fight the disease. Some of them, he said, lost their battles.
"The way I've expressed my loss is through two tattoos," he said. "I've also dealt with it through hospice. Those people are amazing.
"We want to let people know there are resources and support. You don't have to do it alone."
After Nov. 7, donations will be accepted during Spinelli's regular operating hours, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends.
As of last week, Tuttle said he was taking final portraits to be featured in the exhibit. He noted that True Studios in Lewis Center was providing space for him to capture the images at no cost.
"I think the most powerful piece of the whole exhibit is one of a young man stripped down to his underwear who put black X's on his body to represent every place that cancer has affected someone he knows," Tuttle said. "He was covered head to toe.
"The exhibit is a way to put a face on cancer and those affected by it, and it's a way to do a little fundraising. The reception is a way to have some fun that night."