Helen K. Garber + Duce

A Night View Collaboration

With: Vyal... the Reed,  Graffiti Writers: Saber, Gzer, Revok, Mears, Cr8, Retna, Cab , Gin, Zes and Glow.  Assistant Photographers: Eric Poppleton, Curtis McElhinney

Originally commissioned for the 10th International Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy, 2006, A Night View of Los Angeles is Helen K. Garber's 360-degree panorama of the entire city of Los Angeles as seen from the helipad of the US Bank Tower.   The print for the Biennale was printed with on one piece of 5’6” x 40 foot stretched silk.  140,000 people attended the 3-month long fair.  The first print is stored in Italy, in the archives of the Venice Biennale.

The second print of A Night View of Los Angeles was commissioned for the exterior of the  front entrance of the 16th International Art Exposition, Photo LA, at the Santa Monica Civic in January 2007.

It had to be printed on banner vinyl and fastened through grommets to a 40 foot outdoor concert lighting truss to allow it to be windproof and waterproof, and no threat to the 10,000 attendees of the fair.   It made for a much less elegant installation than the back lighted, stretched silk indoor exhibit at the Venice Biennale, but still impressive enough for  Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa to give Helen a commendation for the beautiful rendition of the city.

The view of the city was a huge technical achievement, pushing the available software at the time, but Helen felt that her weeks of computer work drained the energy and emotion of the piece.   She wanted to add energy back into the piece and decided to invite top LA graffiti writers to use her print as a surface to ceremoniously tag the entire city at once. 

Helen K. Garber, an urbanist, feels a camaraderie with graffiti writers as she and they roam the city at night while sometimes forsaking their physical safety, to use the urban landscape to create their art. She partnered with Duce, renowned graffiti writer, to design the collaboration and invite important writers to her studio to lay down their tags without obscuring the important landmarks that she painstakingly rendered. 

The first group of tags were added in Spring 2007 for the Venice Art Walk installation and then a second set of tags were added by artists who were unavailable in 2007 while the piece was on exhibit at the Convention Center for 2010 Los Angeles International Art Show.  A Night View was the back drop of another Helen K. Garber directed installation presented by the Lucie Foundation,  Group LA 2008, An Intimate View of Los Angeles. 

Most residents do not understand the difference between graffiti writing and territorial tagging and consider it all urban blight.  And while Helen doesn't condone uninvited graffiti, she views it no worse than billboards, electric wires and thoughtless urban development such as fortress indoor shopping malls,  dingbat apartments and McMansions created with lots of money but no aesthetic sense.

She presents this piece to enlighten the viewer about the importance of art programs in public schools.  Imagine how more beautiful our city can be if children can learn art appreciation at a young age (as Ms. Garber did attending public schools in Brooklyn) with perhaps even classes devoted to the appreciation of the urban landscape.  That way our future graffiti artists as well as the future property owners and developers will be able to consider design and aesthetics when they create something that will be visible to the community.

A Night View Collaboration was first exhibited on the Westminster School Fence at the Venice Art Walk in 2007, Gallery Skart, Santa Monica, 2009, the  Pico Art Walk, 2009 and FADA Los Angeles Art Show, 2010 at the Convention Center, downtown Los Angeles.  It is looking for a permanent home in a Los Angeles Regional Museum.

Helen K. Garber

fine art photography