Jump to the listing for
 (1998)   
(Update 1 May 1998) This is an annotated listing of links to galleries and museums and to art organizations in the Chicago area. Links to these resources are scarce, quickly outdated, often dull, and frequently badly constructed. Before you start idling away your time browsing the local scene, check this list.
If boring, empty, full of broken code, or not downward compatible, we'll let you know. Many sites are very snitty about what browser to use, "Gotta .. have Web-Skape 4-Point-7 .. or can't see," and plug-ins, and whatever other crap. Some even tell you what equipment to buy and how much to spend. Sort of defeats the idea behind the HTML format.
If there are comments, they reflect an impatient check with some Netscape version. A later look with a text browser (Lynx or Bobcat) checked text-mode compatibility, and resulted in a number of "oops" icons. Notes on content stand to be corrected. To do so, just send *angry comments* via eMail.
The previous review was done in [January 1997].
Between January, 1997, and January, 1998, it looked as if fewer sites were constructed from spoons and rubber bands. Older sites dedicated to providing information have simplified their web files. Newbees can still be spotted for their black backgrounds, time consuming graphics, neon font colors, and the investment in Java and other Bad Ideas (TM).
The ability and willingness to support a website seems dependent on one of two conditions: a surplus of money, which allows a professional job to be done, or a surplus of time. Museums seem to have a surplus of money, and their websites are frequently splendid.
Galleries and schools, however, have only a surplus of time, so that high school kids get hired to lay out pages, or it is done in-house. Like "everyone is an artist," so, "everyone is a web-page designer."
What has started to show this year is the insular nature of web page authorship. Either very little feedback comes from outside to re-inform design decisions (our situation certainly), or the authors are just given over to a wanton arrogance. The "get Netskape" syndrome, which seems to be slackening this year (maybe everybody has Netskape), is just one sign of the latter. The html hacks are still the larger sin.
There are 100 mainstream galleries in Chicago and another hundred miscellaneous, new, temporary, and NFP galleries. A handful have URLs. Don't expect a lot; expect a lot of misdirections, moving gifs, and FRAMES which won't fit your screen. FRAMES suck, in my opinion, and I will make a note of them. Just remain hopeful, you can always quit out. The *Intuitive Icons* are there to help you.
OK - means it's OK - not bad, not
good; just so-so.
Bomb - means the site delivers little.
Yuk - means the site is aggravating or just stupid.
Slow - means the images are large or early and slow.
Brain Dead - uses Java, Frames, other Bad Ideas (TM).
Dynamite - means don't miss this spot.
Wow - means this is a place well worth looking at.
Fast - means the source is well constructed and fast.
Info - means there is information.
Pix - means there are images.
Oops - means the site skids on a Text browser.
To browse all the galleries in alphabetical order, check out our plain Vanilla version of current exhibitions throughout the Chicago area at the Vanilla page. Updated within ten minutes after the Reader posts their files at Yahoo, which is often not till after midday on Fridays, and at times as late as 6pm. We truncate long descriptions also, but leave you the closing phone number. Copy this link for quick future reference:
Easy to read, informative.
A year ago the verdict for this whole mess was "braindead." This year I'll settle for "paralyzed." Don't get stuck here. The opening page represents both the tute and the school, and carries a 71 K image featuring the Chicago skyline, artistically rendered in faux chalk, with smoke curling out the top of the Sears Tower...
The Art Institute is thus viewed from its ass end, and to make sure you won't miss it, it's been circled in an very unchalklike manner. Can't say I really wanna see this, especially when I have to wait minutes for this opening image to downloaded. This page gives you a choice (natch) of the School and the Museum. Things worsen as we press on.
For the Museum, get ready to go for pizza or something. Travel to Milwaukee for a take-out order maybe. The opening file is 700 KiloBytes (holy shit!), and will take like a half hour or so to get onto the screen. Compare this with some of the websites below which will fill your screen in less than two seconds.
The Art Institute obviously is using a dedicated staff, who have nothing better to do than try to create the most cute images imaginable, to be seen on 6 foot wide monitors in detail which would make hawks and falcons blink.
I tried pushing on, after returning with the pizza, at which point 58
percent of the image had downloaded, but the next screen went to FRAMES,
with the left cell mostly occluded, so the index couldn't be read. Duh. Call
them on the phone, instead, if you need information.
But before you use the above URL, try the URL listed below (jump down a paragraph), for it is all too easy to get lost in SAIC's very strange anti-censorship buffer file, which doesn't make any sense at all. To wit...
It seems to be the ordained direction of Academic web behavior to attempt simultaneously to uphold public decency and to abrogate it with a statement on the liberties which faculty and students have in placing *anything* on the University server. The flimsiness of this proposition, for SAIC as you will see for other institutions, results in a page of links to (you guessed) the EFF, and other sites grappling with the issues, but without a single statement of their own.
[SAIC student and faculty work] at http://www.artic.edu/saic/saicwww/space.html
Ain't much here, surprisingly: Zakari, and cyber cowboy Fred Endsley with his homespuns, some student work. A few items follow.
I looked through
*all* of the possible "student portfolio" links, but found almost
nothing. There is still work up from a BFA show of two years ago, with
images which look like video grabs, and many
*so dark* as to be impossible to view, obviously worked up on a
monitor cranked up to maximum brightness.
The fiber show of two years ago (1996) is still up as
[http://www.artic.edu/saic/fiber/touch/]. Interesting. FRAMES, though. Again, the images are so dark that the word "touch" will *not* show up on most monitors unless misadjusted to full brightness.
I looked up Beret, to find it on Elston Avenue still. That was three years ago when they moved. Tough and Ten In One were missing. Oh well.
Well organized though; and reasonably fast. Hate their pink wallpaper,
which persists through every page (makes you wonder where you are). I just
don't know what the outstanding features are -- it can't be the
Fortunately, they have dropped last years listing of artists (although there were a few good links). Unfortunately the "gallery listings" just go to the Reader's listings; same for Theater.
The September show is still listed for other "events." Otherwise is has
reduced itself to
*information* rather than the arts
*glitz* of last year. It is no longer the endless list of 800
artists. Good. The anchored images just result in 404 errors ("file not
As a test I looked for their phone number. It took 51 seconds to locate with a ppp connection -- ought to be faster if you have a T-1 line. Not bad, for having figured out how to navigate, ignoring the images, and not clicking on live links which bring you back to the same page you are on...
You can avoid the ads and the hopeful wait by just clicking on whatever shows up, but the next page (./contents.html) takes even longer to load. The images are so dark that they are difficult to see without readjusting your monitor (All done on MACs?). And don't look at "larger versions" of images. I tried one and the "close page" button didn't work -- it's Java stuff, and I *never* allow Java. Of course I had to disconnect my machine to get out.
I also tried to look at the catalog for Art in Chicago (last year's
show), but the waits were so trying that I gave up. Black backgrounds and
day-glow text don't help readability.
stamp art by Michael Thompson and Michael Hernandez de Luna at this
[http://www.pg.net/o/stampart.html] . Really nice, and appropriate to a
website. Better links:
UPDATE: -- Joe has moved the actual floating event to July of 1998, same place, sort of, and to coincide with the Oz Fest (whatever that is) ("they sell beer").
The image above is from April of 1995 -- the best year for work, the
worst year of inexcusable casualties: 30 floats were capsized or drowned,
and the Flo-tilla crew was turned away from Ogden Slip by the Harbor Police
with the remaining stuff.
Chuck pays me the following compliment, "The best I can do for you is give you a link to the best (wordy) of all browser art sites in Chicago: The Unofficial Uncomfortable Spaces Web Site" - Chuck Eaton
Thanks, Chuck, it was a mere bagatelle.
Great. Well done and makes sense. (Making sense has become a criteria in browsing). Not as fast as in the past; using ugly interlaced GIFs; but can't be faulted for design otherwise. An endless series of things to browse. Go see it.
A great source of censorship cases from antiquity (all the usual textbook stuff about hemlock in Athens, etc) to the present, although missing from the present is any hint of casual indirect censorship.
The authors apologize for not being encyclopedic, but what the hell. Apparently the hits counter has not been updated in a while. Interesting though. A certain didacticism shows in the white text on black backgrounds -- make you feel like you're back in a classroom.
I checked a few random facts, for kicks. Clicked on Africa. I don't know what Rabelais was doing in central Africa, so I selected "Gargantua and Pantagruel" to find out. Very relieved to find that a Papal Bull of 1535 absolved Rabelais from ecclesiastical censure. Phew!
Then checked (media) Internet censorship. An unresolved or unimportant
case in New Jersey showed up. Entirely missing was the Big Tadoo (TM) which
played out across the internet in the last year -- the USA Congressional
interference with the Internet. Probably half the email, Usenet, and Web
traffic dealt with this issue. But the authors apologize for not being
The index page takes some time to load, and as usual is probably only used to plus-plus a CGI script for counting hits (when will they learn to grep log files?).
Still loaded with great stuff, though. A
The colored backgrounds and colored text drive me nuts, but there are more images than at some museum sites. The images look brilliant, and actually seem to be of the correct density and contrast, something difficult to find at many sites.
Includes also a wealth of discussions by Paul Klein, and responses from
others, which makes intriguing reading. Smart for a gallery, informative,
and easy to cruise. Go see it.
Their hits counter don't work right. Talk to the Head Cowboy about that.
March 1998: Back in business, a new
format, easy reading. Go see it.
Still, as a year ago, "you must have installed.." the "FREE APPLE QUICKTIME VR PLAYER SOFTWARE," etc. At least I no longer "gotta have" Netscape Navigator 3.0. with plugins, etc.
Good. I run NOTscape 2.02, and have no intentions of upgrading. I have jettisoned the QT, NA Player, Shock Wave, and Java files. (QT writes 30 megs of read-only files to the Windows directory!). Sometimes I run Bobcat, and make it sign in as Mozilla.
Most interesting at the site are the text files describing the massive effort at making panoramic images of all the gallery's alcoves, and have them play back with QT software. "We already owned a Vivitar zoom lens," does not encourage confidence in resolution. Nor does their ownership of a "florescent filter," no doubt integral to the projects' blooming.
But it is none the less interesting to see the proud descriptions of the
details of the project, especially since
*I* have made panoramic images for years. I still can't figure why
half the pages won't load.
The website is closed April 1998.
RSG first closed in January of 1997, due to a financial crisis. Hamza and his crew carried it back from the dead, however, and they reopened in September. Ken Thompson is still operating Pform, Paul Brenner is still aboard, the space is open again, and the website has gained immensely in information and speed.
Perhaps a sign of understanding the mutability of a website shows in the use of white backgrounds and setting limits on graphics (the images are still *way* too dark -- I fixed the one above). Some are just missing. But you can actually find everything you want here: information, shows, members, staff, even a reasonably candid revelation of their problems over the last year.
You won't find, however, any links to local art. There still is not a
single Chicago link on their "art resources" page. This last page seems to
have stood still for two years now.
One page samples with images from various collections. Colored
backgrounds make reading a bitch. Some nice stuff though, not much where you
would expect a lot. Many of the links just go to a press release about the
"nature museum." I'm gonna start a Web Museum before it is too late.
The pink squiggly wallpaper background drives me bonkers, though. But
that isn't SOFA's doing, it is the design of their web site provider,
ArtResources. For which see above somewhere.
Sponsored by the AIC, Goethe (de), Lufthanza, Elec Viz LAb UIC, etc... but *none* of the links work with Lynx. Finally, I tried it with Netscape. A conference and exhibition dated from last year.
Day-glow on Day-glow. Cool if you like that. Reputed to be a mind blower
for the Netscape and PPP crowd (last year), but mostly does nothing except
link endlessly elsewhere. Oh well.
FRAMES, and funky graphics, and very difficult to make sense out of; some of it just unreadable and seems to just go round in circles.
Somebody must have been working 60 hour weeks over the last year: the
whole of the 1997 show catalog is on line. A CGI search links to a database
with formal descriptions (location, the stable, and a sample) of just about
every gallery exhibited in 1997. This all the same construction is as boring
as it is endless.
Lots of wacky font colors and Netscape slaverings right now. In the last
two months this has grown to a 20 meg magazine rack of back issues,
galleried images, (for which go see
[the whole ball of wax]), or just check
[the first issue].
This year: Oodles of text, fast link to just about anything. But I have no idea what this is all about, but then, I never did have academic leanings.
For Chicago the one of ten initial NFP orgs is Beacon Street Gallery, at
Truman College, at
[http://www.openstudio.org/sites/beacon.html]. Ask them what this is all
Last year's comment: A few broken links if you are browsing with Lynx and looking for Fellowship money. You'll never find it. But then, that is their policy.
This year's comments: (1) They are still there. (2) Money has moved to the index page.
Nice white backgrounds. All put together by a crew of over 50 people, or
maybe 100. Ah, what committees can't do!
And, hey! Free money.. when there is money. Funding programs are easy to
This year they have gone to a longer text file, but otherwise nothing
has changed: Still listing one artist, mostly music, a longer list of
on-line publications, and the same gallery list as years ago: Look at
Artists Book Works (closed four years ago), darkroom aids (closed last year)
or Beret (moved from Elston Avenue three years ago). Forget it.
CAC services, and artists' images.
Ken Thompson seems to have finally caught up almost completely. Buttons and stuff have been added.
Subscriptions, back issues, etc.
Strange, for the slamming I gave them a year ago, they actually have a "links page" entry which reads, "Jno Cook's review of Chicagoland art sites" -- meaning, I suppose, this file, which is a review of *Web* sites. But the URL for the link contains three errors, and you will *never* connect. That's one way of getting even.
My bitch last year was that their "art resources" list did not have a single link to anything in Chicago. (I suggested they list the Utrecht catalog.) This year things have certainly improved. The NAE web-master was able to find 6 Chicago links, which includes one gallery (besides the Uncomfortable Spaces) and two museums.
Says something about Web activity in Chicago. I think *I'm* gonna add the Utrecht Catalog on this page
(later:) The Utrecht Catalog can be found at