Former L.A. district atty. changes focus

SANTA MONICA, Calif. The title of the former district attorney's current photography exhibit is called "Second Act." The title also reflects where /*Garcetti*/ is in his life.

"Even when I was district attorney, I always had a camera," said Garcetti. "I've been taking photographs longer than I've been a lawyer."

Garcetti went from avid photographer to artist when he saw an ironworker forming /*Disney Concert Hall*/ in downtown Los Angeles.

"I just said, 'Whoa! Wait a minute! I really mean this. I have to take a photograph,'" said Garcetti.

Garcetti knew he'd made the transition to his life's second act when a man in New York recognized him for his photography.

"It wasn't about /*O.J.*/, the /*Menendez brothers*/, or anything else. It was about my artwork," said Garcetti. "That was pretty cool."

Garcetti has a series of five books of his works published. Samples from those works are also on display in the gallery of Santa Monica College's Emeritus College, a program for older adults to take classes and perhaps find their own second acts.

"Cuba is a very, very poor country. But yet, there is a vibrancy ... there is a spirit that I saw when they dance," said Garcetti of his other work entitled "Dance in Cuba." "I wanted to show people you don't have to have all the things that we have to really feel life. Dance a little. Get out there ... do it!"

Photographs from his book "Water is Key" are special. Profits from sales of the book are going toward drilling clean wells in western Africa, where people face disease from poor water and girls can't go to school because they have to carry the water.

"There is plenty of safe water in West Africa. Bring up a borehole well. It changes everyone's lives. In particular, the girls -- they go to school," said Garcetti. "The whole atmosphere in the village changes. We have changed people's lives by simply bringing a borehole well to their village."

Garcetti's passion will leave us with lasting images not soon forgotten.

"I am proud of both. But today I am a photographer," said Garcetti. "I daresay on my dying day I will still be a photographer first."

Gil Garcetti: 2nd Act
Emeritus College
1227 Second Street, Santa Monica
Gallery hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday
Exhibit closes Feb. 28


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