By Helga Gendell
The award-winning and philanthropic G2 Gallery in Venice is celebrating its fifth anniversary of supporting art and championing the environment.
Owners Dan and Susan Gottlieb, who opened the gallery in March 2008, have donated all art proceeds from nature and wildlife photography to environmental causes. The name G2 stands for the Gottliebs.
According to the gallery’s mission statement, “The G2 Gallery believes in the union between environmental causes and the power of photographic art to change the world. We share this passion with the world’s best photographers, who use the camera as a tool to inspire conservation. Supporting art and the environment by showcasing the world’s most celebrated nature and wildlife photographers and donating the proceeds to environmental charities.”
When the gallery opened March 8, 2008 its first exhibit showcased the work of one of the world’s premiere nature photographers, Thomas D. Mangelsen. That exhibition was followed in September by world-renowned artist and activist Robert Glenn Ketchum’s work.
The Gottliebs, who are both passionate about the environment and photographing nature, have traveled worldwide, never without their indispensable cameras. Dan Gottlieb, born in Chicago, spent large amounts of time in the Field Museum of Natural History and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. He graduated from Boalt Hall Law School and later served for four years as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney. In 1976 he co-founded a realty corporation, G & L Realty Corp., which owns medical office buildings around the country.
Susan Gottlieb was born in Canada, and grew up in a remote area of Quebec. Her father was a Swedish immigrant and engineer working with a gold mining company. Her husband said she grew up witnessing the devastating effect that gold mining had on the environment.
Growing up in the midst of nature also fostered her love of birds and wildlife, as well as her staunch support for environmental causes, she says. After coming to California, she worked for a number of years as a registered nurse, and met her husband in 1985 when she worked in his brother’s medical practice.
“Susan grew up in a cabin in Canada, and her mother would have to walk down the hill to pump water and bring it back to the cabin. There was a conscious effort to conserve and appreciate the basics. I grew up in Chicago, and if I needed water, I turned on the faucet,” said Dan Gottlieb.
Susan Gottlieb credits her husband with the idea of opening a gallery due to his love of photography. While she is also a photographer, she said that the gallery presented a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in environmental causes by nurturing artists whose work related directly to those causes.
“When we first opened, I envisioned a small gallery, perhaps showing the work of local artists and friends. Then I realized that Dan had a much larger vision in mind,” she said.
In the 1980s, Susan began restoring the couple’s garden at their home, removing exotic plants and non-native species, replacing them with native plants, to attract the birds, insects and wildlife that now make up the garden, which is designated by the National Wildlife Federation as an official wildlife habitat. Their home is on the garden tour circuit, and she is getting ready for an upcoming tour.
Hummingbirds abound in the back yard, flitting back and forth between numerous feeders, and the vegetation is varied and beautiful, she says. She marvels at how much the garden has taken over her life, and said in the beginning she had planned to do a little project by removing the ivy and other non-native species. Susan Gottlieb is assisted by her longtime gardener of 18 years and his son, who prepares the yard for upcoming tours and generally keep everything going.
Asked what they foresee for the gallery now that they’ve reached the five-year anniversary, Dan and Susan Gottlieb both said, “Much more of the same for years to come.” They both credit Jolene Hanson, the director of the gallery, for its success. “She’s been with us from the beginning, and has done a wonderful job,” they said.
Current exhibits at the gallery include SPILL, featuring photos by Daniel Beltrá of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill released 4.9 million barrels worth of crude oil into the ocean, devastating wildlife and the environment. The exhibit opened March 5 and will show through Sunday, April 21.
Another show currently being exhibited is Nature LA: Cyanotopes by Christine Caldwell. She foregoes the use of a camera, using paper prepared with light-sensitive chemicals, takes specimens from Los Angeles County beaches and aquatic communities, then exposes them to sunlight and bathes them in water to create each unique piece. Caldwell’s exhibit opened March 5 and will show through Sunday, April 21.
Photos of the Gottlieb Native Garden are available on the gallery’s website. The gallery offers photographic workshops, music events, and podcasts with artist interviews.
Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The gallery collections and gift shop periodically close for private events and holidays. Events, artist information and upcoming closures are listed in the online calendar.
The G2 Gallery is at 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Information, (310) 452-2842, info@theG2gallery.com, or www.theG2gallery.com.