EVOCATION, ritual performance by Anita Getzler
Music: Mourner’s Kaddish, composed by David Marenberg
performed by the L.A. Choral Lab, Michael Alfera, Artistic Director
Video Production: Flourish Projects Group / LA Art Documents 2021
directed and produced by Vojislav Radovanovic & Jason Jenn
EVOCATION: the act of bringing or recalling a feeling, memory, or image to the conscious mind.
Remembrance of Love for those who were lost in this pandemic.
The impulse for this installation materialized over several decades. It began with the first roses I saved –a bouquet of red roses my parents gave to me at the opening of my first photography exhibit. I saved more bouquets of love over many years – letting them dry in their vases and then saving them in a basket. Eventually, I had to get a really big basket.
Over 20 years ago, I began saving some small vials – just because they were wonderful. Several years later I was in a thrift store and bought the printer’s drawers. They reminded me of my uncle who had been a printer in Europe, before WW II. My mother told me that my uncle’s wife and children were murdered in a concentration camp, but his life was spared because he was a printer and could be put to work. I kept the drawers.
Over the years, I’d open the box of vials, I’d see the printer’s drawers, and I knew something would come of them. Much later, ideas and images started whispering in my mind – about placing the vials in the drawers, than about creating a piece in remembrance of my family murdered in the Holocaust during WW II. But what goes into those vials? I had no answer. And I wasn’t ready to dive into that difficult topic – too much pain in that past as well as in my own life.
In 2013 I moved back into my parents’ house in the Los Angeles area and took care of my father. My mother and sister had passed, so I was his touchstone for many years. My father had just undergone a traumatic experience that altered him completely. It was a painful time.
What brought me solace, joy, and reminded me of the power of Love, where the eleven rose bushes in my mother’s garden. I tended them, loved them, and they were stunning. Each had a unique, strong, and beautiful scent. The roses reminded me of my mother, whom I loved and cherished. I could see the roses outside my windows as I painted. But I had to have them inside, in every room. I wanted to see them and smell them and touch them as I walked through the house. It’s what made the days bearable, what sustained me during this tragic time. Often, with so many roses blooming at once, I could fill five vases of different colors: red, yellow, white, peach, or lavender. Once dried, I’d put them in paper grocery bags and stored them. I was infatuated.
My father passed on in August 2014 and I stayed in the house until March 2018. I continued to save the rose petals. Sometime during those years, my answer arrived: the rose petals from my mother’s garden would go into the vials.
I began working on this installation in the summer of 2020. Contemplating the meaning of this piece, I recognized that even as EVOCATION memorializes my family and all those lives cut short by the Holocaust, I must address these present times, our world’s current situation – I was living in a global catastrophe. And in my own county, the United States of America, we would likely lose 600,000 precious souls to COVID-19 by the time this exhibition opens in April of 2021 – a tragedy of epic proportion.
As I filled each vial with crushed rose petals, as I strung each petal on its thread, I affirmed the power of Love. These roses were grown, cherished, and cared for with love. We remember all those who have passed on during this pandemic with love, we cherish their memories, and we care for those left behind.
Anita Getzler lives and works in Santa Monica, California. Raised in Brooklyn, she was influenced by her many encounters with great art in the museums of New York City. As a teenager, her family moved to the Los Angeles area where she started high school. After earning her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA from California State University, Los Angeles, and her Teaching Credential as an Arts Specialist from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Anita pursued careers as a museum educator and a high school art instructor, all the while creating fine art photography and raising her two sons.
It was while directing the Education Program at The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and in several contemporary public galleries in Las Vegas that Anita broadened her vision and sharpened her photographic eye. She later took the position of Director of Education for the Guggenheim/Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas. She then went on to teach High School art classes in the Clark County Public Schools.
Anita has participated in numerous group art exhibitions, including several solo photography shows. Her imagery continues to evolve into new approaches to abstraction and metaphor.