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There may be a few nudes on Queer

Arts Resource, but this is one Web

site attempting to uncover forms of

gay and lesbian cyberculture that

don't involve cruising chat rooms or

downloading images of hot, naked

flesh. QAR bills itself as an

"educational forum for the display

and discussion of queer content in the

visual arts," and the Internet has

proved a perfect do-it-yourself

vehicle for the mission.

The site was launched in 1996 by

Barry Harrison, a 41-year-old

"escaped architect" who was struck

by the dearth of accessible

information on the gay presence in art

history. "When I was in school, I

didn't know there were many gay

artists," Harrison recalls. "It just

wasn't discussed. It's a form of

censorship. I started QAR to try to

combat these impulses, to show our

glorious cultural heritage."

Working with Webmaster Jim

Grady, a board of directors, and

numerous volunteers, Harrison has

put together an engaging site that

achieves his goals with seasonal

series--or "siteworks"--of virtual

exhibitions and forums that reveal just

how rich that heritage is. On-line

galleries and essays showcase

historical and contemporary art and

artists, such as openly gay Mexican

painter Nahum Zenil. Some shows

"rediscover" early-20th-century

artists such as photographer George

Platt Lynes or Hubert Stowitts, an

infamous Anna Pavlova ballet

protegee turned painter of visionary

and fleshy subjects in the 1930s.

Stowitts is honored with the site's

largest exhibition to date, part of the

just-unveiled winter 1998 gallery


But QAR is just as concerned with

modern-day artists working in digital

media. The current offerings also

include a more up-to-the-minute

group show titled "Contempo

Lesbos," which includes an

interactive piece that polls visitors on

what they want from lesbian art. In

the fall 1997 exhibit, multimedia artist

Rudy Lemcke presented audio-enhanced

excerpts from his CD-ROM

on the site.

Each QAR exhibition is

accompanied by a contextualizing

essay, while the Forum section

presents more in-depth, revisionist

looks at important artists. In light of

Robert Rauschenberg's now-traveling

Guggenheim retrospective, the

career of the legendary

American artist gets the once-over

from gay art historian Jonathan

Katz in an extensive on-line essay, while

the art that emerged from gay activism's

heyday in the 1980s is the subject of

Robert Atkins's provocative and lavishly

illustrated essay "AIDS: Making Art &

Raising Hell."

Visitors can post comments and

observations in another area, and more

discussion areas are planned for the

future. "We're reinventing art history,"

Harrison says.

It's fitting, then, that QAR

concentrates on content rather than

flaunting the latest digital bells and

whistles. Some of the most advanced

programming here does behind-the-scenes

work like audience tracking, not serving

up RAM-hungry video clips. "We want

to be accessible to the largest number of

people, so we try to keep things simple,"

says Harrison, who is the first to admit

he's a high-tech neophyte. The site,

however, is rich in artwork and appealing

design features, such as the key icons

that lead visitors into the proceedings.

While the site operates on a shoestring

budget--its global headquarters is next to

the washer and drier in Harrison's modest

multipurpose room--and relies heavily on

in-kind donations, QAR has been

steadily growing in terms of content and

audience. The site has gone from

receiving 1,000 hits a month to 100,000,

with visitors from as far away as tiny

South Seas islands. Says Harrison: "It's

just amazing that we can do so much and

reach so many."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Special Cyber Report; Queer Arts Resource Web site
Author:Helfand, Glen
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 3, 1998
Previous Article:Oscar in America.
Next Article:Little Plastic Castle.

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