Five viewpoints

__Vantages of Atlanta that waver between sunny boosterism and the edgier realities behind that reflect civic pride can be found at A Sense of the City: Five Photographers’ Perspectives of Atlanta at ArtWalk.In the former category, Ilia Varcev’s cheery photos of parades and construction workers are meant to give the city back its own neat, packaged view of itself. Tova Rose Baruch offers more of the same: girls in festive Caribbean costumes, black fraternity brothers, a beauty queen.

The five photographers convey varying degrees of respect and love for a city that has taken its share of hard knocks for its traffic, pollution, corruption and other vices. A Sense of the City envisions Atlanta as its residents know it, not just as some monolith summoned up as sprawl’s worst case scenario or an Olympics money-grab, but a humble, flawed dwelling filled with residents more diverse than Ted Turner and Elton.

The eccentricity and shabby charm of the city is nowhere so obvious as in Sheila Turner’s photographs of scrappy, iconoclastic mom-and-pop businesses that hang tight in the shadow of the city’s superstores. Turner’s snapshot-style aesthetic pictures a multi-ethnic, multi-class face of the city, one that often exists side-by-side, as in a photograph of a chubby sports fan cheering on her team inset onto a larger photo of an Asian woman working in an anonymous kitchen.

Thomas Tulis brings his usual captivatingly lit, nighttime vantage to the city’s nooks and crannies, documenting the underpasses, railroad yards, antiquated trucks and other hidden places where graffiti artists ply their trade. The only glimpse of the city familiar from tourist guides and photo books are slivers of skyscraper or the glow of the distant metropolis in images that instead privilege a subcultural view of Atlanta.

If Tulis captures some of the new jack ambience of the town, Mark Wolfe is after the city’s more weathered, old-school charms. In Wolfe’s retro-ambient city, black men sit on swept front porches, kudzu runs free and antediluvian businesses like the “Pit Stop Food Store” and “Toby Sexton Tire Company” cling like barnacles to the Mothership.

The setting for the exhibition is as contradictory as its viewpoints. Situated in a hallway of Lenox Square mall, the ArtWalk pedestrian gallery is both an ideal of accessible artwork available in a public setting and another indication of how peripheral art is to commerce.

A Sense of the City: Five Photographers’ Perspectives of Atlanta runs through Nov. 10 at ArtWalk in The Promenade between Lenox Square and the JW Marriott & Lenox Building on Peachtree and Lenox roads. 770-435-5180.??