Gen. William T. Sherman really is eying you on the Beltline

Howard Pousner for the AJC | July 2014

In time for the Battle of Atlanta’s 150th anniversary today, General William T. Sherman is back.

Do not run for cover, good citizens. It’s only Sherman’s stern visage that has returned in “Apparitions,” artist Gregor Turk’s temporary public art installation commissioned by Atlanta Celebrates Photography and Art on the Beltline.

Sherman’s eyes stare down from five different billboards clustered together along the Atlanta Beltline adjacent to Piedmont Park (a quarter mile north of the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive), and have since March.

This is actually the third phase of Turk’s project. In the first phase, which went up last fall, the billboards were covered with images of blank billboards, photographed in a previous Turk project and suggesting mischief to come. It arrived in the second phase when the billboards were plastered with life-size images of the very views they obscured.

Part three, titled “Look Away,” strikes a more serious and provocative note.

“The configuration of the encircling billboards could be construed as an inverted version of the Cyclorama featuring Sherman’s eyes rather than the battle he witnessed from nearby Copenhill,” Turk wrote in an email to the AJC, referencing the site of the current-day Carter Center.

The artist clarified that his intention was “to reflect on the city’s progress and shortcomings since its destruction 150 years ago through the intimidating gaze of Sherman.”

Not everyone appreciates Sherman’s stare. Two of the billboard facades have been hit by rocks, and the general’s eyes have been defaced with gold spray paint on a third one. That ignited a howl of protest by commentator Ed Hall on the Atlanta arts site

“Look Away” has been extended through mid-August, which Turk thinks is dandy, since he approves of the kudzu now creeping up one of the billboards, adding some Southern gothic flair.

Here’s a map to help explorers reach the exact location.

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