Video Art: The First 25 Years: Ever since portable video equipment became an affordable technology in the late '60s, a growing number of artists have employed the medium to make personal statements in a way film had never been used. The key words for the first generation of these artists were "portable" and "affordable"--for many video makers, accessibility was the driving force behind their passion for the medium. As the field expanded to include folks who came of age during a time when TV literally dominated their childhood, convenience took a back seat to the flowering of a genuine sensibility, a vocabulary, an instinct for the form influenced--believe it or not--by all those years watching sit-coms and variety shows. The Center for Research in Contemporary Art at the University of Texas at Arlington presents a retrospective of the revolution entitled Video Art: The First 25 Years. Four different programs, grouped roughly by theme, showcase 48 works by American artists, with a smattering of important Australian, European, and Latin American folks. Gender and Convention investigates sex roles; Autobiographical Voices features personal stories; Media and Process looks at the technology of electronic image-processing to create abstract forms and shapes; and Performance and the Body examines the incorporation of video art into live stage performance. Works by Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, and William Wegman are showcased next to newcomers like Sadie Benning and Cordelia Swann. The four programs that constitute Video Art are sheduled at different times through February 21 at the Center for Research in Contemporary Art, 700 W. Second on the grounds of the University of Texas at Arlington. It's free. For schedule information call (817) 273-2891.
Michael Moschen: The International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS) features its second MacArthur Award-winning "genius" in a row. Indeed, like fellow recipient Mark Morris, who performed with his dance troupe last week, Michael Moschen is an unabashed entertainer, a man who has a higher opinion of the audience than the medium in which he toils--he'll bend it into pretzels if he thinks people will enjoy the result. But unlike Morris, Moschen works within an essentially populist art form--juggling. But calling Moschen a juggler is a little like calling Minnesota Fats a pool player--the terms don't begin to describe what they can do with their balls. Moschen combines rings, hoops, and spheres with elaborate props and light effects to create a kind of geometrical circus. A veteran of festivals all over the world, a frequent guest performer on everything from David Letterman's show to Sesame Street, he is part acrobat, part illusionist, part clown, but completely original. His work can make you feel as though you're hallucinating. Moschen performs February 3 & 4 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-6112.
The Door with Seven Locks and Death Kiss: The Major Theatre screens two rare noir thrillers together on one bill. Death Kiss (1930) is a creepy, atmospheric whodunit starring Bela Lugosi in top scenery-chewing form, well before he slid into his morphine-inspired Ed Wood abyss. The entire movie takes place on a film set where an actor is murdered during a scene and everyone is a suspect--including an unseen supernatural force that may or may not exist. The Door With Seven Locks (1940) is an English suspense tale about a dying man who bequeaths seven keys to seven people he doesn't like at all, so he can have the posthumous satisfaction of dispatching them in nasty and elaborate ways. Both movies screen nightly starting at 8 pm through February 9. A $6 ticket gets you into both shows. The Major Theatre is located at 2830 Samuell Blvd, off the Winslow Exit of I-30 in East Dallas. Call 821-FILM.
Bernie Siben: Cabaret veterans like singer Bernie Siben must feel at least a little contemptuous of Johnny-come-latelys like Connick, Feinstein, and Natalie Cole. The latter are just three examples of a wave of musicians who took jazz and show tunes out of the clubs and onto the charts, replacing atmosphere with slick professionalism. Yet the songs of Berlin and Porter and Gershwin and Sondheim really work best performed in a specialized context--amid the dim lights, clinking ice, and smoky air of a club, where squalor and intimacy collide to make the happy lyrics seem esctatic and the sad lyrics near-suicidal. Siben is a 20-year veteran of the Southwest and Southern club circuit whose resume also includes stage musicals and television. In his show "20 Years in Cabaret," he tackles old composers and new, with a collection of contemporary pop covers. Siben gives a show on February 3 and 4 at 10 pm at John L's, 2525 Wycliff in Oak Lawn. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information call 520-2525.
Angry Girl Sextet: Members of the Angry Girl Sextet, an "all-girl talk band," describe their work as "spoken word cabaret." You could extend the hyphenated descriptions forever--neo-feminist-satirical-poetic-performance art maybe, with a few teaspoons of silliness and a dollop of outrage sprinkled into the brew. Last week's performance by the girls was at the opening of the Suite X Gallery, which is located near, of all places, a Hooters location. The Angry Girl Sextet might not have such an inspirational opportunity when they play Club Dada, but they're likely to come up with something intriguing anyway. They perform at 9 pm at Club Dada, 2720 Elm. It's free. For more information call 331-8082.
Sergio Daniel Tiempo: When you're 22 years old and the world is already hailing you as one of the finest anythings of your generation, it might seem there's no compelling reason to get up the next morning. But Venezuelan classical pianist Sergio Daniel Tiempo is used to such acclaim. Already a nine-year veteran of the international spotlight (he debuted at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw at the age of 14), Tiempo began studying piano at the age of two with his mother, made his stage debut at three, and appeared as a featured performer on Argentinian TV when he was four. He has performed with every major European symphony, recorded a series of albums for the prestigious Victor label, and won enough competition prizes to bust a grand piano top. Don't hate him because he's brilliantly talented (on second thought, go ahead). Sergio Daniel Tiempo makes his Texas debut with the Cliburn Concert Series at 3 pm at the Ed Landreth Auditorium on the grounds of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10-$30. Call (817) 335-9000.
re: Beauty and the Freeway Access Ramp: University of Dallas graduate student Nancy Rebal makes her one-woman exhibit debut in Dallas with a show that serves as her thesis for a master of fine arts degree. Don't call her a novice, though; she's studied in Washington D.C. and California and is already represented by a Denver gallery. Her show at the Hickory Street Annex Gallery, called re: Beauty and the Freeway Access, includes numerous paintings that incorporate panels featuring representation and abstract work. The exhibition's corker is a 22-feet-by 10-feet polyptych entitled Rhapsody, inspired by the great Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca and offered to the city of Dallas as "a healing." re: Beauty and the Freeway Access Ramp runs February 5-26 at the Hickory Street Annex Gallery, 501 Second Avenue in Deep Ellum. Areception for Rebal is held February 12, 4-6 pm. It's free. For information call (817) 268-0918.
Don't Look Now: When a movie can make Donald Sutherland with a perm seem sexy, you know the artist behind the camera is a master at manipulating your senses. That's the perfect way to describe what Nicholas Roeg's eerie 1973 adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's perverse story Don't Look Now does to viewers--comes at them from many different directions, offering explicit sex, supernatural themes, emotional undercurrents of guilt and loneliness, and a subtle but palpable build-up of tension. As hypnotized as you are by the barrage of coldly beautiful images, you feel like Roeg is playing a game with you, artfully wearing your defenses down to deliver a kick in the gut. He does, with a climactic scene that's one of the most irrationally terrifying finales in modern cinema. All jokes about Sutherland's hair aside, he and Julie Christie are as marvelous as usual playing parents who flee to Italy on a vacation to help them deal with their daughter's tragic death. Fate entangles them with a pair of nosy old sisters and a killer who knifes his victims with gleeful enthusiasm. The USA Film Festival screens a new print of Don't Look Now at 7:30 pm at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N Central Expressway. Tickets are $6. For more information call 821-NEWS.
The Light Crust Doughboys: Texas swing legends The Light Crust Doughboys are so taken for granted around these parts, it's often easy to forget they spawned the likes of Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, and Tennessee Ernie Ford (their association with Slim Whitman might just as well stay forgotten). For the better part of 64 years now they've served as the standard-bearers for Western swing, a fusion of big-band pomp and country grit that's the closest thing this planet offers to a Fountain of Youth (it's certainly done wonders for their ranks, past and present). The Doughboys offer their time-tested mix of rhythmic standards and love songs at 7:30 pm at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E Mockingbird. Tickets are $9, and optional food and beverage service is available. Call 821-1860.
Skulls: If you look at the world around you from a strictly empirical point of view, science becomes pretty dull. If, on the other hand, you begin to really examine the cycles of nature and the animal kingdom, it becomes clear that there really is more than just meets the eye. Without favoring any particular religious tradition, you can acknowledge there's a marvelous order to everything from the change of seasons to the physiological design of a mammal--there seems to be a very real intelligence working behind them. It might be helpful to ponder this while you visit Skulls: Photographs by Francois Robert. The title of this photographic exhibit of works by Robert, a Swiss-born photographer whose work has graced many major U.S. and European magazines, is self-explanatory--these are up-close, black-and-white images of animal skulls, from buffalos to birds to monkeys. Using a variety of different angles and light techniques, Robert wants to show you exactly what a skeletal head is--it's a framework, a practical blueprint, a design. So who or what created it? We didn't claim Robert had all the answers. Skulls: Photographs by Francois Robert is on display through April 16 at the Dallas Museum of Natural History in Fair Park. Tickets are $2 for kids, $3 for adults. Call 421-3466.
Dallas Neighborhoods: Contrary to what some of us young 'uns may think, Dallas at one time really did possess genuine architectural charm. The residential housing development explosion spurred by the business boom of the previous two decades constituted, for many people, a triumph of consumption over character--a dilemma that remains the city's Achilles heel even in less economically prosperous times. But the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the downtown Central Library wants those of us to remember the way Dallas looked in the early part of this century, when it was a town that knew it was a town and didn't try to be an international anything. Dallas Neighborhoods is a collection of photos, maps, architectural plans, and other items from neighborhoods before World War II. Swiss Avenue-Munger Place, Lakewood, Oak Lawn, Hamilton Park, and Pleasant Grove are among the sites represented. Dallas Neighborhoods is free and on display in the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division on the seventh floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. For more information call 670-7838.