Armin Landeck loved New York. The city that O. Henry called "Baghdad on the Hudson" seems in Landeck's etchings drypoints and engravings, a Camelot instead.

The New York Landeck etched so well in the '30s and the '40s is dynamic, crystalline and good. Its streets are never scuzzy, theatening or crowded. Landeck looked out of his window and saw on New York's roof-tops an ordered sculpture garden of watertanks and chimneys. He loved the city skyscrapers and dissying deep canyons - he rarely shows us people O. Henry's Baghdad teems, Landeck's New York soars.

June and Norman Kraeft, the indefatigable print dealers, scholars and collectors (who used to deal here but now show in Connecticut) have meticulously organized the Landeck retrospective on view at the Octagon, 1799 New York Ave. NW.

Their exhibit is well timed. Landeck's prints, notlong ago, seemed a little out of it, beautifully produced but hopelessly old-fashioned. Now they seem antique.

Two contrasting themes run through Landeck's art.One of these is technical. Landeck's loved, and mastered, the burrin, the acid bath and

In the streamlined forms of art deco, in the brass of the big bands, in the penthouses and patter of William Powell comedies, one feels the same, now touching, confidence in progress. Joseph Stella and O'Keefe, Lozowick and Steiglitz, in their pictures from the '20s, also chose to celebrate sky-scrapers in sunlight, but their optimistic awe crashed with the Depression.

Landeck was more loyal. He kept his eyes on New York's skyline even while the bread lines formed below.

An architect turned etcher, he took his degree from Columbia in 1927 and 1928, show wind mills and cathedrals, monuments and monks. They might well have been etched in the 1880s. Only in their subjects are his urban graphics modernist. At heart they remain faithful to the old beaux arts tradition.

It is clear from Landeck's work that te admired Durer, and for a while Sheeler. Under the influence of William Stanley Hayter in 1941 Landeck began turning his subtle tones and shadows into busy nets of curved and hand-ruled lines.

Though Landeck seems to me a modest minor artist, his show is oddly moving. His skies are free of smog, there are no muggers in his shadows. His etchings of the city are tethered to their time. He was one of the last artists to see New york as picturesque. The show ends Sept. 3.

The customers who bank at Government Services Savings & Loan, 7200 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, ought to look more closely at the large and life-like birds hanging on the walls.

Those images of eagles, tanagers and owls look like color photographs, so seamless are their surfaces. If bird art weren't so soothing, so easy on the eye, the viewer would discover that all those countless feathers were painted painstakingly by hand.

Who knows how many painters, illustrators, naturalists, all in debt to Audubon, now specialize in birds? There may well be thousands. William Zimmerman and Robin Hill, who share this exhibition, are among the very best.

Both use tiny brushes, both are superb technicians, knowledgeable, careful. The best of the bird artists paint with a clockmaker's assurance. They know exactly what they're doing. Their work is clean, concise, and wholly free of doubt.

William Zimmerman, who lives in Indiana, is the more delicate technician. He paints his talons, eyes and feathers with a miniaturist's precision; even with a glass, one can hardly see hils watercolor brushstrokes. But his birds are somehow stiff.They look like scientific specimens. I prefer the HIlls.

His brushstrokes seem alive. So, too, do his subjects. An egret startled by a lizard flies off the paper. Hill's painted surfaces, seen closely, delight the eye with motion. Hill, it seems, has studied flight as well as feathers. He paints an osprey's droppings with calligraphic deftness. The Zimmermans are polished. Hill's birds are brought alive by the almost Oriental strokes of his always moving brush. The show closes Sept. 16.

Four artists - from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Senegal and Ghana - share "African Cross Currents," the current exhibition at the nearby Elan Gallery, 7720 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. It was organized by Kojo Fosu of Howard University. Those who in the '60s began to watch the burgeoning of a pan-African black art can see in this exhibit how much it has evolved.

The hallmarks of the style - the cowrie shells, the masks, the bright and activer colors, the sense of dance and music, the designs and tribal patterns - are used by these four artists, but that is only where they start.

These devices have, by now, become merit badges, icons, but not all art that uses cowrie shells or Dogon masks is therefore, automatically, worthy of respect. What makes this show impressive is the way its artists - Edgar H. Sorrells Adewale (who teaches art at Howard), Yvonne Everett and Kwaku Ofori-Ansah (who both took degrees there), and Bacary Dieme of Senegal - orchestrate their signs.

Everett's "Miles," for example, blends patterning and portraiture. Her colors conjure sounds. Dieme's art is more traditional; also it is witty. Amid fish and bowls and snakes and other African devices, a child sucks his thumb. Kwaku's "The Circle of Communality" is at once a shield, a bird, a splash, a sun. Sorrells-Adewale, who works with brass, sand and iron, paints not just with colors, but with textures, too. The objects in this show are subtle and not strident; intimate not brash. The exhibition runs through Aug. 26.

The Market Five Gallery, on Capitol Hill beside the Eastern Market, is showing work by the young artists of the art cooperative called "Saba" - the word means seven in Swahili.

These artists are still young and most are still exploring: their work is often tentative, and the show is a mixed bag. What makes it worth a visit is the humor and the power, the wild dancing energy, of the work of Calvin Reid. His pictures bring to mind Pollock and the comics. Ellington and R&B, Africa, 14th Street. But the mix, the graceful bedlam, is entirely his own. He, too, trained at Howard. When, at last, the Corcoran, the Phillips, or some other art museum here gives an overdue exhibit to the Howard School. Reid will be among the artists shown. The exhibit at Market Five, 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue SE, closes Sept. 6.