May 9th – Focus Group: The Screening Room with Jonas Mekas

Join us for our final event featuring Robert Gardner’s The Screening Room with the Visual Arts Center! In this episode, the Visual Arts Center will be showing Gardner’s interview with legendary filmmaker and ciné-activist Jonas Mekas! Preceding the episode, ERC’s Scott Stark will present a short talk and screen the second reel of Mekas’ WALDEN: Diaries, Notes and Sketches.

Scott Stark received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1980s, and has gone on to a distinguished career in film and video art; his work has shown at festivals and art venues worldwide and has garnered numerous awards. His 2001 film Angel Beach was invited to the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and in 2007 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. His newest work The Realist will have its world premiere at the San Francisco Cinematheque’s Crossroads festival in early April 2013, along with other recent work, and his 2012 video BLOOM will be featured in the SF International Film Festival in late April. He now lives in Austin, Texas, where he runs a microcinema called Experimental Response Cinema, and manages Flicker (, an internet resource for alternative cinema.

Event Details

May 9th, 2013
Visual Arts Center (map)
Auditorium , Room 1.102

Walden: Diaries, Notes and Sketches (Reel #2) by Jonas Mekas
40min / 16mm / sound / 1969
Filmed in 1964-68. Edited in 1968-69. In Walden, he asserts that the images shown are “for myself and for a few others,” suggesting an intimate circle of friends. This was in fact true, as Walden’s first screening was an informal “first draft” version at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. By showing details of his family life, and of outings and time spent with friends, Mekas extends an invitation to his viewer to partake in their beauty. [These images] are not much different from what you have seen or experienced,” he says in As I Was Moving Ahead. “There is no big difference, no essential difference between you and me.” To watch a Mekas film is to experience the intimacy of someone sharing his life with you. “Kreeping Kreplachs meet (Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Tuli, Warhol, Barbara Rubin, etc)/ Hare Krishna walk; autumn scenes; Sitney’s wedding; New Year’s Evening in Times Square; Goofing on 42nd Street; UPtown Party; Velevet Underground; Deep of Winter; Naomi visits Ken & Flo Jacobs; Amy stops for Coffee; Coop Directors meet; Dreams of Cocteau; In Central Park’ What Leslie saw thru the Coop window; Olmsted Hike.” — J.M.

More info on the Visual Arts Center website.


Focus Group is a screening series centered on experimental film in its various formats, including but not limited to 16mm, 8mm, and digital video. Focusing on seminal filmmakers from the past and their contemporary counterparts, the screenings are introduced by artists, filmmakers, critics, and curators who additionally present discussion topics ranging from innovative approaches to the medium to issues in contemporary film culture. Through this exposure to unique and often rare films, as well as the critical dialogue surrounding them, Focus Group enables a broader understanding of the possibilities of cinema.

Screening Room, a 1970s television series that aired in Boston, invited independent filmmakers to screen and discuss their work on a commercial affiliate station (ABC-TV). The unique program, developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, gave equal exposure to animation, documentary, and experimental film by artists such as Jean Rouch, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton, Yvonne Rainer, and Michael Snow. Each episode featured conversations with filmmakers about their work, as well as excerpts, and often full-length films. The filmmakers that were presented on the show are now considered among the most influential contributors to their respective genres. Produced and released by Studio7Arts, an organization founded by Robert Gardner to support nonfiction media, the rarely seen Screening Room episodes are still invaluable today to creative thinkers, regardless of what medium they work in.

This spring, as part of the newly branded series, Focus Group, the VAC presents a different episode of Screening Room each month, providing a wide range of anecdotes, explanations, and methodologies from pioneers in film. Videos and films hand-picked by members of Experimental Response Cinema precede each screening.

For March’s edition, the VAC presents the July 1975 episode of Screening Room with Suzan Pitt. An animator and painter whose surreal films have gained her worldwide acclaim, Pitt pushes the boundaries of the animated form, sometimes working with live actors or using animation in operatic stagings. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York, and the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam, and she currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. In this episode of Screening Room, Pitt screens and discusses the films Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game, Crocus, Cels, Whitney Promo, and Jefferson Circus Songs.

Special thanks to The University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts Library and its staff for supporting the educational mission of the Visual Arts Center through acquisitions of works like Screening Room.

The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is positioned as a place for the intersection of art education and art evolution. The center is a new exhibition and research space within the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin that will highlight internationally acclaimed artists, as well as students, faculty, and alumni through multiple programs. An adaptive reuse of the space in the Art Building previously inhabited by the Jack S. Blanton Museum, the VAC was designed by renowned architects Lake | Flato and provides an additional 22,000 square feet of space to the department.

The Visual Arts Center draws together a uniquely diverse arts community of students, alumni, faculty, guest artists and creative voices from around the world. This beautiful facility — with its airy hall, collegial gathering space and inspiring art exhibits — forms the new intellectual and emotional center of this dynamic community.