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Art Review: G2 Gallery:

A new addition to the wealth of art galleries on the Westside is G2 in Venice. Located on a corner of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the two-story building features a gallery divided into several rooms, as well as a video room. G2 is an environmentally conscious gallery, which will display the works of famous nature photographers and donate at least 15 percent of its sales to environmental charities such as Friends of the Ballona Wetlands.

The gallery officially opened on March 11, with an exhibit of photographs by renowned wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen. The opening reception/press preview on March 8 was more than well attended, with some guests bringing their children to see Mangelsen’s photos of nature.

Mangelsen, who resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, originally majored in biology and was formerly a cinematographer for National Geographic. He has done television specials, books, and won first place in American Photo magazine’s Images of the Year contest with “Morning Shower,” a photographic canvas as it were, of king penguins out for a morning outing on the beach of their home in South Georgia island, near Antarctica.

“Morning Shower,” with its panoramic view of a penguin population that according to Mangelsen, numbered half a million birds, is one of the photographs on display at G2. Most of the other photographs in the exhibit are of animals and birds. Locations range from the mountainous areas around Jackson Hole to the forests of the Serengeti in Africa. The creatures range from tiny, colorful birds to gorillas, cheetahs, and elephants.

What strikes the viewer immediately is the way Mangelsen’s subjects seem to have human characteristics. “Spirit of the Rockies” shows several bears cuddling together. “The Dry Season Cheetahs” could be a formal family portrait. Tight close-ups render the portraits of a gorilla (“Gentle Giant’) and a bald eagle (“Dreamcatcher”) as character studies that prompt viewers to say “I know that face!” One of the most irresistible photographs is “Polar Dance” featuring two polar bears standing on their hind legs, having a mock fight. Not only do they appear to be dancing, but one bear seems to be laughing!

Chatting with the Mirror, Mangelsen said he takes precautions when photographing his subjects, often shooting from boats or large vehicles where he is protected. As for the variegated facial expressions and body language that make his animal subjects so entertaining, he said “Most of my ‘moments’ came about as serendipity.” But he added, it is important to treat the animals carefully and with respect.

Over the years, Mangelsen has established a series of galleries, Images of Nature, in locations throughout the Western United States. While he usually exhibits his work only at these venues, he consented to being the subject of the opening exhibit at G2. A mutual friend introduced him to G2 owners Dan and Susan Gottlieb and he decided it was “a great connection. I could tell they were serious [about the environment].”

G2 Gallery is located at 1503 Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. The Tom Mangelsen exhibit will be on display through May 31.

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