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Talking wires

Troy Bennett: Utility Poles at Get This! Gallery

Maybe it's the lack of compelling, lasting architecture in Atlanta that drives regional artists to document the city's architecture of nothing.

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Get This! Gallery owner and artist Lloyd Benjamin calls it "forgotten but essential" architecture, and he should know. He is one of those locals forever casting about the geographic margins for his own subject matter, which focuses on the landscape's overlooked yet ubiquitous forms.

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Former Atlanta artist J. Ivcevich documented our bland highways. Gretchen Hupfel took photographs of the virtually invisible airplanes and electrical towers that crisscross our skyline. And Benjamin is fixated on train yards and locomotives, the old-school workhorses of our industrial world.

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Photographer Troy Bennett's art-making is also centered on the white noise of our urban milieu. His visual prey are the Utility Poles that occupy a position on the landscape hierarchy much like the one elderly men and women occupy on the human one: overlooked, incidental, and yet, central to our diverse tapestry.

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Bennett, who is an instructor at the soon-to-be-extinct Atlanta College of Art, photographs the utility poles whose subtle changes of design suggest different actors playing the same role of Hamlet. Bennett creates a taxonomy of poles; an industrial field guide to identifying the various "species."

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There are the sleek poles, with a minimum of wires and insulators. And then there are the Grand Central Stations of poles, crazed intersections of wires and circuitry. Like a slash of red lipstick on a bare-naked face, the pole featuring seafoam blue-green glass insulators is a shocking insertion of color into this brown, gray and white industrial color scheme.

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Though the concept is intriguing, especially for how it intersects with the work of other former and current local artists, Bennett could probably stand to vary the subject matter of his study. At a certain point, the variations become less visually interesting and the idea overly strained and overworked.

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From a distance, the photographs suggest paintings or drawings with the graphic simplicity of work by William Cordova or Ed Ruscha.

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In principle, though, Bennett's work is more aligned with the disciplined and orderly efforts of influential husband-and-wife German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose images of industrial buildings like water towers, coal bunkers and warehouses shot straight on examined the variations among them.

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felicia.feaster@creativeloafing.com

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Troy Bennett: Utility Poles. Through June 3. Get This! Gallery, 322 Peters St., No. 2. Thurs.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. 678-596-4451. www.getthisgallery.com.



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