Doing Time: Images From Eastern State Penitentiary
Photographs by Martin Frank at Vermont Center for Photography

Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but it stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Once known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first “penitentiary” -- a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone. The prison actively held convicts for over 142 years and was completely abandoned in 1971.

Martin Frank’s extraordinary large format silver gelatin prints establish a sense of unreality in the crumbling architecture within the prison walls. From the ruined hall of cell blocks to the peeling paint and rusted bed frames, we can feel through these pictures an ominous sense of confinement, as if the walls are closing in on us even now.

Frank has been taking pictures since he was a child. In recent years he taught himself how to use 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 large format view cameras. His major influences have been Minor White and Edward and Brett Weston. He says, “Their artistry seems to transform potentially mundane objects and scenes into a new, transcendent and increasingly abstract reality. And, like the masters, I remain committed to traditional, silver-based photography as my primary mode of expression.”
Frank has shown in Soho Gallery, New York City, and a number of galleries in New Jersey. His work is also held in private collections in the Northeast.


The opening reception is on Friday January 7, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk. The public is welcome. The exhibit will close on Sunday, January 30.
Vermont Center for Photography, a non-profit gallery featuring fine art photography, was founded in 1998. The gallery represents photographers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, promoting a regional community of photographers.

The Gallery is located at 49 Flat Street next to the parking garage in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. Gallery hours are Friday, 1 to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; or by appointment. For directions or information, please call 802-251-6051, email at info@vcphoto.org, or visit the website at www.vcphoto.org.