Portfolio: A Conversation with Anita Getzler

by Kara Fox

Anita Getzler currently lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. Raised in Brooklyn, she moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. After earning her BA from the University of California, Berkeley and MA from California State University, Los Angeles, Getzler pursued a career as a museum educator as well as a fine art photographer.

She has participated in numerous group art exhibitions and several solo photography shows. Her photographs are represented in corporate and private collections. Getzler is captivated by the natural beauty of environments and presents them in photographs essentially unaltered by digital processes.

Getzler broadened her vision and sharpened her photographic eye while directing education programs in contemporary public galleries in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She also designed and implemented the Education Program for the Guggenheim/ Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas as the Head of Education.

Through her ongoing explorations, Getzler’s works continue to evolve into new approaches to abstraction and metaphor.

How did you start your journey into photography?

When I first began backpacking through the Sierra and the Rocky Mountains, I would meander along the creeks, often bathing in small pools and under icy waterfalls. Later, I began my study of the ancient Chinese text, The I Ching, or Book of Changes. One afternoon, when being lulled to a quiet mind next to a running brook, I looked up the hexagram "Water", and water was never the same. I watched the small droplet floating out from the top of a gentle waterfall, alone in its descent, and then blending into the rushing waters. I imagined myself as that droplet and profoundly sensed my simultaneous individuality and oneness with the Divine.

I wanted to "stop" the water and capture an image in its long life of transformation. So, I bought a lightweight camera and took it backpacking. The work soon expanded, including other elements of the natural world. At the time I had no training in photography. My good friend Dan Vandevier, who was a photographer and public school teacher, taught me how to use my camera. When I first started, I photographed color images of nature when I hiked and backpacked. The artists who have influenced my nature photography are the painter Georgia O’Keefe and the photographer, William Garnett, among others.

When I was in the city and/or traveling, I would be photographing b/w documentary and learning to print b/w in the darkroom with Dan. (I never printed my own color photographs.)  At the time, I was working as the Education Coordinator of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and we were exhibiting a Retrospective of Max Yavno’s photographs. I was very influenced by his documentary style—especially since I was discussing the images daily with the public.

Later, when I was pregnant with my first son, I gave up the darkroom with its chemicals. And then, I gave up my photographic work altogether after my second child was born. I didn’t resume serious photography until my two sons were old enough to carry their own little backpacks and I could take my camera bag again! What a great day that was!

When I started photographing again, I chose to focus my lens on nature. However, as you can see on the last gallery of my website, when I was in Israel I couldn’t resist documenting the everyday and sacred spaces—this time in color. When I photograph images that are removed from the natural world, the best times are when I'm startled by my discovery and, from an intuitive understanding, find further levels of meaning in the work.

What motivates you to photograph?

When I walk in the natural world, I’m most often drawn by the smaller “worlds” that exist in the bigger picture. I’m enchanted by its beauty and visual rhythms. What makes the image exciting to me is when the photograph becomes an abstraction; when the interaction of line, color, form, and texture delights, surprises, communicates and evokes thoughts and feelings in myself, and hopefully, the viewer. My intention is to transcend the materiality of the image and honor the harmony of Nature's grace, beauty and power.



Headwaters of the Jordan River





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