What is most impressive about Leslie Kuter's art, now at Frasers' Stable, rear 1910 S St. NW., is the intelligence within it. Starting with a small idea, she polished it with thought and nourished it until it blossomed, perhaps one should say hulged.

Her exhibit is called "Muscles." The paintings on display are at once soft and shaped. Made of strips of cloth hooked through sheets of cardboard, they show fragments of the body - bodybuilders' chest, bicps, arms and shouldersz, the torsos of the martyrs, Christ and St. Sebastian, the curving backs of nudes.

The bodies are not sexy, they do not seem quite human. Headless, often legless, they seem amorphous, abstract shapes. Because she uses wool instead of paint, art snobs have been known to dismiss her art as "craft." But Kuter is an artist - see the way she tunes her subtle colors, explores the human scale, uses the white wall. And her show is full of references to the history of art.

She has, I think, learned something from the ordered repetitions of recent color painting. Three muscled chests, purple, brown and green, exploit the white wall much as Tom Downing's discs or Kenneth Noland's bands used the whiteness of the canvas. Abstraction sends the mind toward purity, toward blankness, but Kuter hings at many things, at the statues of the Greeks, the new film "Pumping Iron," the sacred paintings of the Renaissance, pointillism, the shaped canvas, Kenneth Clark's "The Nude." Kuter is an artist of originality and wit. Her show is well-conceived and well installed. It runs through May 21.

"Imaginary Stills from the Life of Rita Hayworth" is the title of his show at Diane Brown's, 2028 P St. NW.

He takes strong photos of his family, of objects and his friends, and then, by adding legends, changes what we see. He remembers, as who doesn't, Rita Hayworth's awesome beauty and he reexperiences her aura when he sees a pouting child, a lipstick on a dresser, or a flash of thigh.

Lloyd McNeill, a man of many talents, deprived this city of his music and his drawings, his posters and his prints, when he some years ago moved on to New York. His acrylic-on-paper paintings are now on display, and his new record is on sale, at the Washington Gallery of Art, 1531 33d St. NW. His imagery is powerful. The way he bends the figure, and the fierceness of his color, suggests both the Fauves of France and the images of Africa. His bearded men in hats are not portraits of specific people, but recurrent spirits.