American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators
If you are hoping for a beautiful photographic art book on Buffalo’s grain elevators, you will be sorely disappointed in Bruce Jackson’s American Chartres. There are a number of things wrong with this large, well-produced art book. The selected topic, a photographic study of mostly defunct grain elevators along Buffalo’s waterfront, was promising. But the execution failed. Jackson introduced his one-hundred-sixty-six photographic plates with a nine-page text that most readers were ready to read before viewing the plates, but the writing is mediocre at best: not informative, unclear in places, and uninteresting. Most readers would be curious to know more about these gigantic grain elevators, but Jackson gives rather limited information, leaving readers unsatisfied. A location map would be much needed to give readers context when he gives the names of the fifteen elevators. Then come the plates—the author preferred quantity over quality. The photography is weak; eye-catching photographs are rare. Most of the plates are repetitions and both photographically and artistically weak and boring. Some view the elevators from outside, some from inside, but all are small, lacking impact. All photographs are color snapshots, no better than any digital amateur photographer would produce. The book ends with a list of uninformative captions.
Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press