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Harker's Barns: Visions of an American Icon (Bur Oak Book) Paperback – February 12, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Bur Oak Book
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press (February 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877458340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877458340
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,174,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A book with Jim Heynen's name on it is pretty much mandatory reading for lovers of rural literature and American humor. Couple Heynen's farm fantasias (e.g., "Tired Barns" and "What They Were Probably Wondering When They Built the Barn") with Harker's photographs of the crowning glories of Iowa's farms, and you have some flat-out lovely Americana. Before displaying his barn portraits, Harker imparts that the barn is now an endangered artifact; every year Iowa loses about a thousand, he says, "to decay, fire, storms, and corporate indifference to the past." Indeed, several of the nonworking barns he presents range in looks from ramshackle to wraithlike--if you want to get personal with them, better hurry. Oh, most seem sound, especially the stone and brick ones, but could we ever see them as well as Harker? After finding the right point of view, he seldom made more than two exposures. This rather blows one away, for his barns are as gorgeous as those painted by American precisionist master Charles Sheeler or even Cezanne. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Harker's Barns, with sensitively written text by Jim Heynen, tells a poignant story of Iowa's barns. And the photographs, an homage and memorial to these barns, ensure that they will never be forgotten. Harker's Barns is a keepsake for young and old who want an understanding of America's rural heritage.” —Jacqueline Andre Schmeal, president, Iowa Barn Foundation

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Conrad J. Obregon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Thank whatever gods you worship for university presses. They undertake the publication of books, not because they expect them to be profitable, but because the books need to be published. "Harker's Barns" is such a book. It will never make a profit. It would probably have been too expensive for its creators to have self-published. And yet it deserves to be published, not just for what it tells us about barns or a vanishing agrarian society or even about the ways of photography, but for what it tells us about love.

The book consists of seventy-five black and white pictures of barns and other farm buildings. Those who care about black and white photography will admire the edge between peeling paint and dry wood and the texture of sun and wind bleached wood. They will also admire the sense of time hidden in some of the pictures. I am thinking of a photograph of a barn, obviously taken at the smallest possible f/stop, to get the depth of field needed to have the barn etched sharply from front to rear. And yet as a result of the long exposure necessary with this small opening, the weeds in front of the barn, blown about by a passing wind, are ablur.

This is a book about love, make no mistake. It is about the love of the photographer for his subject and what it represents in his mind, and it is about the death of a loved one. And it's about the love that many of the people who helped in the project must have felt for the subject, and perhaps for the vision of the photographer. And of course, it is about the love, perhaps unspoken and unacknowledged, of the farmer for his farm.

The photographer laments the gradual loss of the small family farm and expresses his hope that this book can somehow preserve it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Doan on April 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
The ophthalmology department at the University of Iowa is full of talented individuals. One of the ophthalmic photographers in our department is a historical photographer. Visit his website at [...] to learn more about this outstanding artist who is preserving Iowa's history on film.

Harker states:

The images showcased here represent my philosophy as a citizen of Iowa and as a photographer. I am a documentary photographer whose main goal is to record Iowa's historically significant architecture from the 1800's before it disappears forever. My subjects are barns, one-room schools, courthouses, rural churches, banks, and houses from rural areas and small towns.

I work in large format black and white utilizing the scientific technique of Ansel Adams' Zone System to create images of outstanding technical quality. I draw my artistic abilities from my more than thirty year career as a professional photographer.

I intend to leave a lasting legacy in the annals of American Photography through my dedication to the people of Iowa - to visually preserve the early citizens' quality craftsmanship when they built these "cathedrals" of wood and stone.

My images are little time machines carrying forward to future generations of Iowans the dedication of their forbearers. People born a century from now will be able to look back in time to what was once glorious and real.
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