Helen's work has been published in a number of books and she authored Venice Beach, California Carnivale in 2005. Her photo essay about life on Ocean Front Walk became the official commemorative book for the 2005 Venice Centennial.
A Night View of Los Angeles was commissioned for the 2006 International Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Italy. It is a 40-foot long, 360-degree panorama of the entire city of Los Angeles that was printed on one continuous piece of silk fabric. A second print was printed on vinyl for the front entrance of Photo LA, 2007. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa presented Helen with a special commendation for the beautiful rendition of the city.
Helen partnered with graffiti writer, Duce and invited other renowned Los Angeles graffiti artists to use that print as a surface to ceremoniously tag the entire city of Los Angeles at once. It creates a statement about the importance of having art programs in public schools. A Night View Collaboration was first installed at the 2007 Venice Art Walk, and has been exhibited a number of times including the international FADA Los Angeles Art show in January 2010.
Helen directed a 2-year long project entitled An Intimate View where artists of different cultures and economic backgrounds documented their own neighborhood over a period of a year in a subjective manner. The first installation included the 25 artists of GroupLA 2008, An Intimate View of Los Angeles. Presented at MINARC/Gallery Skart, it premiered as part of Month of Photography Los Angeles, 2009. The installation was again exhibited at the international, FADA Los Angeles Art Show in January 2010. The collaboration was well received and reviewed.
GroupSC 2009, An Intimate View of Southern California, covered a broader area that included 45 artists living in cities from San Diego to Palm Springs to Santa Ynez Valley. Duce painted a mural on a trailer the group rescued from the forest and revitalized into a mixed-media projection mobile. The new installation debuted at MOPLA 2010 and was the centerpiece of the Autumn Lights Festival in September 2010.
Urban Noir/LA – NY is a multi-media installation and formal photo exhibit that combines Helen’s night urban landscapes with text derived from pulp fiction using the city as character and jazz music. It was first presented at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, NY, in the fall of 2007. Grammy-nominated musician, John Beasley then composed an original jazz score that he performed live as part of Helen’s presentation at the Annenberg Space for Photography in June 2009. The 17-minute projection was presented as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences, Oscar Noir Festival in August 2010.
The Noir Diptychs are a series of images concerning the idea of fear. The decisive moment when you sense something is amiss and you have to act quickly to preserve your safety.
Although her Brooklyn neighborhood was upper-middle class and quite safe, Helen’s mother taught her as a child to be afraid of the city streets after dark. Once she was a teenager she realized that she enjoyed the heightened senses and the rise in adrenaline that accompanied roaming Manhattan at night with her friends.
Helen was involved in two car accidents within 4 months of each other in 2007. The physical injury to her neck disallowed her the ability to look through the lens of her camera for the next 3 years. She looked back to her contact sheets to create a two-image narrative from her existing negatives so she could continue to create new work while her neck fully healed. The first two Noir Diptychs were exhibited at Farmani Gallery, Brooklyn, NY in 2009 and then at dnj Gallery, Santa Monica in 2010/11. The next three in the series debuted at Artview Gallery, Chatham, NY in summer, 2011.
Venice/Venezia, also created during the time of her recovery are a second series of diptychs that illustrate the relationship of the two cities. It is a comment on global tourism and the effect on the people who actually reside in these over burdened destinations. The formal exhibit was first presented at dnj Gallery, LA in 2010 with an edited version at the LA Architectural Photography Show in 2010 .
Helen is now working in mixed media using photographs from her archives, book pages from her personal library, twine and encaustic on reclaimed wood panels. The first piece in the Encaustic Noir series was acquired and exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland in July 2011. In the same year, another piece was auctioned to benefit the George Eastman House, International Museum of Film & Photography in NY. Other pieces created and sold in 2011 benefited such organizations as the Photo Review, the Venice Family Clinic, the Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
Conjuring Venice, Venice imagery with pages of Ray Bradbury’s Death is a Lonely Business (set in Venice) is a sub portfolio of this work. The encaustic assemblages are intended to promote re-use, appreciation of the urban landscape and historic preservation.
Encaustic Noir was presented as a solo exhibition at dnj Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, in 2012, opening during Photo LA weekend.
At the same time, Helen directed the inaugural NoirFest Santa Monica, a citywide, interactive cultural festival using Noir as the unifying theme. Highlights of the January – March, 2012 festival included a citywide read of Raymond Chandler’s Lady of the Lake, a Raymond Chandler double feature at American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre, a Santa Monica Conservancy Virtual Tour of the West Side locations led by Chandler historian Judith Freeman at the Annenberg Community Beach House and a night photography shoot at Ms. Garber’s favorite location, the Santa Monica Pier.
Venice:Yesterday/Today or still crazy after all these years was a portfolio created in 2012 to support the Venice (CA) Historical Society. After given access to the society's photo archives, Ms. Garber and society president, Jill Prescut acted as urban archeologists and determined the exact locations where the earlier images were taken. Miss Garber re-created the moments from the past and with fine art printer Titano Cruz, paired the two images and presented as diptychs. The inaugural exhibit including 16 diptychs opened in August, 2012 and is meant to travel to various public locations throughout the city.
Ms. Garber was awarded a 2014 Santa Monica Arts Project Fellowship.
Photograph of Helen K. Garber by Kara Fox