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Video art in San Francisco ... screenings, classes.

It's not TV, it's art. Video art--a new electronic medium using video tape and state-of-the-art electronic equipment--can take the form of a documentary, an intellectual montage, or the electronic equivalent of a poem or painting.

Three San Francisco galleries now have regular video screenings, and one also offers workshops. The city's Museum of Modern Art currently has a video installation (a continuous showing on monitors) by New York artist Bill Viola.

Using video in art began in the early 1960s, but it took until the 1980s to enter the mainstream. Part of its intrigue is its flexibility. Color manipulation and electronic editing set it apart from the more chemical and mechanical work of film. Fast-forward and freeze-frame allow artists to create dazzling illusions, often accompanies by original sound tracks.

Two galleries are set up like cafes, with coffee and refreshments availaible. Lasting about an hour, shows are either full-length pieces or compilations of 5- to 15-minute shorts. After, artists or gallery directors can answer your questions about what you've seen. Reservations are sometimes required, or buy tickets at the door.

Martin/Weber Gallery--Artists Television Access, 220 Eighth Street, (415) 431-8394; open noon to 7 Tuesdays through Saturdays. In the screening room you can see work from an archive of local and international video artists. Lectures are given occasionally. You can also rent production and editing facilities and video equipment.

Screenings Fridays and Saturdays at 8 or 9 cost from $2.50 to $4, depending on status of the featured artist. The gallery also shows avant-garde and mainstream films, as well as exhibits of photography, prints, sculpture, and paintings.

New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom Street, 626-5416; 11 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Comfortable screening room has a changing monthly schedule including tapes by European and local artists. Gallery also presents contemporary experimental art, new music concerts, poetry readings.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 401 Van Ness Avenue at McAllister Street, 863-8800; 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Fridays (until 10 Thursdays; free admission after 6), 10 to 5 weekends. Admission is $3 adults, $1.50 seniors and under 16. Bill Viola's video installation "Heaven and Hell" fills two galleries through June 2.

Video Free America, 442 Shotwell Street, 648-9040; 9 to 5 weekdays. This video art center has a large screening room that doubles as a basketball court for screen-weary video editors; it's also an archive for Bay Area talent. Screenings are usually Sundays at 8; cost is $4.

A six-class documentary video courses ($170) shows how to shoot and edit with professional equipment. Editing services, video gear, and computer graphic rentals are also available.

VFA also sponsors the Women's Video Showcase, running Thursday through Sunday, June 13 through 16. Thursday screenings are at the Opera Plaza Cinemas, 601 Van Ness Avenue, at 7 and 9. Friday's location was not known at our press time. Saturday and Sunday screenings are at the Exploratorium, Marina Boulevard and Lyon Street, from 11 to 6. There's also one Sunday showing at VFA, at 8 P.M. Call for prices and details.

The Video Gallery, 1250 17th Street; 863-8434. Open only for weekly screenings, usually Fridays at 8; cost is $4.

The fifth annual San Francisco International Video Festival will run September 26 through October 6. You can sample video installations at The Video Gallery and nightly screenings at the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina. Call for details.
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Date:Jun 1, 1985
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