When the 29-year-old Biograph Theater shuts its doors at the end of June, Washington will lose not only one of its last bastions of offbeat cinema but an art gallery as well. High above the lobby's wooden benches, jammed with slouching film buffs munching popcorn seasoned with curry powder, some 200 artists have hung their work over the past three decades. Like the eclectic screen fare advertised on the theater's marquee, some exhibits have sold out and some have been virtually ignored. And unlike a traditional gallery, the Biograph has never taken a commission on anything sold.

Before the converted Nash automobile dealership becomes a CVS drugstore, there will be one last art show. As always, the works have been selected by Alan Rubin, president, programmer, curator and self-described "big enchilada" of the Biograph partnership. Last week Rubin, 59, climbed down from a ladder one last time after hanging 21 of his own oil paintings.

"It's what I always wanted to do when I grow up," laughs Rubin, who also holds the distinction as the first artist to exhibit at the movie house. Having resumed painting three years ago after a 15-year hiatus, Rubin thinks he is a much better painter for it. "I have more maturity now, and certainly more patience," he says. "I will work on it longer, until I am satisfied that a piece is done."

Ranging in price from $500 to $2,200, the pictures he has chosen could not be more perfectly suited to their environment: In the context of this bohemian shrine to filmmaking, the bold, illustrative scenes resemble nothing so much as frames from imaginary movies. Unlike Cindy Sherman, whose series of fanciful "Film Stills" focused exclusively on the photographer herself, Rubin gets his inspiration from his vast collection of postcards, photos, movie stills and old magazines. The visual sources he quotes run the gamut from Edward Hopper and "The Wizard of Oz" to "101 Dalmatians" and "The Three Caballeros."

"All my stuff is half stolen and half made up," he says. "The piece called Farewell' was taken from a scene in A Farewell to Arms,' except I changed the background and a few other things. But I just love the long shadows."

Working in a restored sky-lit barn on his farm in Fauquier County, Rubin is part cinematographer, part collage artist, borrowing a face, a figure, a snow-covered phone booth, and recombining the elements in a dramatically lighted tableau that looks simultaneously familiar and foreign. ("Isn't that so and so from whatchamacallit?") Seemingly, he paints not about themes or ideas but about the very act of looking itself. In "Looking Good," a dapper, David Nivenesque gentleman in a double-breasted suit preens in a mirror. In "Binky and Bob Watch TV," it is hard to say who is more rapt in front of the tube, the man ensconced in his armchair or his canine companion. His subjects are posed rather than captured; they exist in sets rather than environments. Like the movies and magazines to which they pay homage, they afford escape to a world of heightened reality, if only for an hour and a half in a darkened theater. Arts Bits

Washington-based composer and harpist Anne LeBaron was named winner of a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts last week. The prize -- $50,000 with no strings attached -- was established last year by the California Institute of the Arts and the Herb Alpert Foundation, and honors artists from the fields of dance, music, theater, film/video and the visual arts as much for social responsibility as for creativity. "The E&O Line," LeBaron's blues opera based on the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, will be produced this year by District Curators and Opera Americana . . . D.C.'s Choral Arts Society leaves town Wednesday for a 13-day concert tour of France, including performances at the Evian Festival, the Sorbonne, the Auvers-sur-Oise Festival and Notre Dame cathedral. On May 28 a small group from the chorus will sing for the world's oldest woman, Jeanne Calment of Arles, who turned 121 in February . . . The Washington Studio School will host a reception Wednesday night to benefit the school and its Youth Scholarship Fund. Drawings by recent scholarship recipients will be on display, and a hand-colored etching by founder Lee Newman will be offered for sale. Individual tickets are $50, or $75 per couple. Call 202-333-2663. CAPTION: Alan Rubin's "Great Gildersleeve and Toto," one of the movie-inspired paintings on display at the Biograph Theater, which closes down next month.