Monroe Gallery of Photography
Monroe Gallery of Photography

Santa Fe — Monroe Gallery of Photography, 112 Don Gaspar, is pleased to present "Remembering Bethlehem Steel", an exhibition featuring the documentary project of leading contemporary photographer Stephen Wilkes. The exhibition opens on Friday, October 7, and continues through November 20.

"Remembering Bethlehem Steel" is a collection of large format (up to 48 x 60 inches) cibachrome photographs of the abandoned buildings that once formed the great Bethlehem Steel plant. Known as "The Steel", the former plant, which closed on November 18, 1995, encompasses about 100 acres with more than 25 buildings and other structures dating from as early as 1863. Wilkes‰ photographs capture the haunting beauty of these historic buildings. Virtually nothing has been done to protect the buildings, which have experienced deterioration and vandalism. Roofs are leaking and, in some cases, have blown off, and windows and doors have been broken and interior contents damaged. Using natural light, Wilkes painstakingly photographed the peeling paint, rusted iron, broken glass and halls with wind-strewn debris and created an ethereal diorama that is captivating and compelling. "I felt as if the workers had just left for a coffee break," said Stephen Wilkes, whose photographs document the stillness of a plant that, even in its desuetude, remains a potent symbol of the nation's industrial might.

Steel from the Bethlehem Works was used to build 80% of New York City's landmark skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building; additionally it's steel built the George Washington Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the locks of the Panama Canal, battleships and armor plates for two World Wars, as well as and to reconstruct the White House in the Truman era. Wilkes' photographs preserve a memory of that not-too-distant age, when proud men and women produced the steel that built a nation.

Click here to see other photographs by Stephen Wilkes.

Sunrise, Lehigh Division, Bethlehem Steel

Moonrise over blast furnace, Bethlehem Steel

Shadow arches, Blast Furnace
Bethlehem Steel

Steel remains
Bethlehem Steel

"The Fat Lady Sang"
Bethlehem Steel

Coke Ovens
Bethlehem Steel

Wall Study
Bethlehem Steel

Huge Toolshed, Bethlehem Steel

Flywheels, Bethlehem Steel

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