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Local photographer Kathleen Gerber uses new exhibit to raise funds and awareness for African Millennium Foundation

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Those who know Kathleen Gerber solely through her prolific photo portfolio—previously highlighted in National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, and other outlets—might be surprised when they discover she isn't a career photographer.

The Grover Beach resident works full time as a geologist at Vandenberg Space Force Base. But her two areas of expertise often overlap.

"I use most of my photography as a platform to either raise awareness or funding for projects I've been working on," or both, said Gerber, who has embarked on a handful of trips to Africa over the past decade to assist a nonprofit, African Millennium Foundation (AMF), with drilling water wells in Mozambique and other countries.

Gerber also helps document the foundation's various efforts through her photography. Many of these images, along with some wildlife photos taken during Gerber's travels, are on display in a new exhibit at Ameriprise Financial in Santa Maria. All proceeds from prints purchased at the showcase will benefit projects associated with AMF.

PRINT PROCEEDS All proceeds from the prints sold at local photographer Kathleen Gerber's Ameriprise exhibit will benefit projects associated with African Millennium Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to relieving poverty, hunger, and disease in Africa. - COURTESY PHOTO BY KATHLEEN GERBER
  • Courtesy Photo By Kathleen Gerber
  • PRINT PROCEEDS All proceeds from the prints sold at local photographer Kathleen Gerber's Ameriprise exhibit will benefit projects associated with African Millennium Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to relieving poverty, hunger, and disease in Africa.

Shortly before being introduced to the nonprofit, Gerber first traveled to Africa with her sister and mother, right around her mother's 75th birthday. Gerber described the trip as a milestone and "a powerful experience."

"It was a dream trip for my mom, and for all of us," said Gerber, who added that as soon as she became interested in supporting AMF, her family was and has remained extremely supportive, "even when I can't articulate why something is driving me."

Gerber said she hopes one day to use more than just her spare time outside of work to benefit the nonprofit.

"I am looking to the future about when and how I can transition from my day job no longer being my day job and my projects being what I do," Gerber said. "I don't want to put a date on it, but I am visualizing what it will look like."

FRAME GAME Along with Ameriprise Financial in Santa Maria, another local venue where people can find Grover Beach local Kathleen Gerber's photography is the SLO Gallery in downtown San Luis Obispo, across the street from SLOMA. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHLEEN GERBER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Kathleen Gerber
  • FRAME GAME Along with Ameriprise Financial in Santa Maria, another local venue where people can find Grover Beach local Kathleen Gerber's photography is the SLO Gallery in downtown San Luis Obispo, across the street from SLOMA.

Gerber grew up in Los Angeles, but has lived in Grover Beach for the past 20 years. She loves living walking distance from the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. And while her job in Lompoc and new exhibit in Santa Maria require some southbound commuting, Gerber plans to participate in an upcoming art showcase much closer to home.

Later this spring, Gerber will be bringing her photography to the 2022 Art in the Park at Dinosaur Caves. The ongoing pop-up series will be held in Shell Beach on the first Sunday of each month (except July), starting in May and continuing through December.

"It's a way to kind of talk about my work and projects, and also introduce it to a broader audience, but in a local way," said Gerber, who added that she's excited to join one of her friends, a jewelry crafter, in showcasing their respective artworks together at the outdoor event.

SERENE SUNSET "I'm really interested and fascinated with street photography these days," said Kathleen Gerber, although she feels the label sounds more appropriate for stills taken on a busy street in New York City, rather than while people-watching at Pismo Beach. "It's not quite the same, but you still find moments, you know?" - COURTESY PHOTO BY KATHLEEN GERBER
  • Courtesy Photo By Kathleen Gerber
  • SERENE SUNSET "I'm really interested and fascinated with street photography these days," said Kathleen Gerber, although she feels the label sounds more appropriate for stills taken on a busy street in New York City, rather than while people-watching at Pismo Beach. "It's not quite the same, but you still find moments, you know?"

Another local venue where people can find Gerber's photography is the SLO Gallery in downtown San Luis Obispo, across the street from the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Gerber also frequently updates her Instagram with the products of one her latest stylistic obsessions, street photography.

"I'm really interested and fascinated with street photography these days," said Gerber, although she feels the label sounds more appropriate for stills taken on a busy street in New York City, rather than while people-watching at Grover or Pismo Beach.

"It's not quite the same, but you still find moments, you know?" Δ

Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood always loves to hear from local photographers. Reach out to him at cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

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