Gilbert Heritage District Photographic Retrospective
The Gilbert Photo Project – A Community in Transition 2004–2011
The Town of Gilbert engaged Mark Bennett, a professional photographer and long-time resident, to capture images of the town during a multi-year project as Gilbert experienced a time of great change. They sought not just documentation, but documentation combined with an artistic vision, and they found that combination with him.
The impetus for the project was a flurry of activity surrounding the construction of the Arizona Loop 202 highway by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Surface streets were being widened, improved, re-routed, and linked to the highway.
Coincident with road construction, the town was experiencing a housing boom which prompted even more road construction plus new civic amenities, like parks for people and pets alike. It also encouraged new commercial ventures to cater to the new residents. There was a lot going on and the town wanted a record of it so in the future people would know clearly what had come before.
Mid-way through the span of the project the economy faltered, silencing the housing boom and slowing growth, if not outright backtracking some of it, but by 2011 investments and improvements had begun ramping up again.
Through it all, he explored the town and captured those images — the good, the bad, and the resurgent. Not every venture succeeded, but the setbacks proved to be mere prelude to better things.
About Mark Bennett
Born on an Air Force base in 1958 to a fighter pilot father from back-country Alabama and a seamstress mother from Venice, Italy, Mark lived in many places and was exposed to many influences. His pre-teen interest in photography became a full-fledged passion when he served on his high school yearbook staff. He went on to a degree in Industrial Design, made his living, first, as a technical and graphic designer, then as a graphic designer, writer, and photographer.
His personal photography, centered on nature and industrial subjects, has appeared in a limited number of gallery shows, while his aviation photography appears worldwide in publications and customer communications.
Mark and his wife and kids moved from the Chicago area to Gilbert in 1990, where he became active in civic groups and projects. In 2004 the Town of Gilbert engaged him to make images from throughout the town, a project that spanned seven years and resulted in a sixteen volume book collection.