Artist Greg Hannan's name was mispelled in Saturday editions in the article on Walter Hopps' "36 Hours" art show.

Already it was midnight, and still the line stretched down the block. Walter Hopps, the magnet who would draw them from their studios, had promised he would be there, and local artists by the hundreds had responded to his call.

They leaned against the darkened store-fronts along downtown G Street. Cradling their pictures, they stomped against the cold. The line moved slowly toward the rundown gallery called The Museum of Temporary Art. They chatted and joked and squatted on the sidewalk, eating sandwiches and eggrolls. One by one they waited for a chance to place their art in the hands of Hopps.

The event was his idea. "36 Hours" would begin at 9 p.m. on Thursday. All artists were invited. Hopps promised to be on hand for the next day and a half, installing pictures brought him on a first-come, first-serve basis, until the deadline passed or the walls were filled.

He is a former director of the Corcoran and of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art. He is now an "adjunct" curator of 20th-century art (he used to be the curator) at the National Collection of Fine Arts. Though "36 Hours" began on the dot, everyone who knows him knows he works uncertain hours. Some years ago a button was distributed in town. It said, "Walter Hopps will be here in 20 minutes." All who know him understood the joke.

His exhibits are infrequent. Rare indeed are the artists -- though Marcel Duchamp is among them, as are Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, R. Crumb, Joseph Cornell, Rockne Krebs, Sam Gilliam, and Ed McGowin -- that Hopps, for reasons of his own, has chosen from the mass for a museum show.

Because his choices seem, in retrospect, prophetic, varied, fine, Hopps today is famous not for sloth but selectivity. He understands, as his friend Duchamp did, that in art there is no hurry. The less Hopps seems to do, the more his reputation grows.

Though he had no idea what its art would look like, "36 Hours" is a show that should enhance his fame. Because the artists in it are old and young and good and bad and famous and unknown, more the latter than the former, it does not look like other shows Washington has seen.

The art machine excludes. The shows we see reflect the taste of curators and dealers, not of artists only. Hopps' show was not screened.

Sonia Goldstein, 28, was artist number one because she was the first in line when, at last, the doors opened. She brought a picture she had painted in 10th grade. Hopps hung it on the wall.

Elena Maza, No. 14, a Cuban exile, had brought along a blanket, and a painting she had done of West Indian dancers. "It's a small U.N. outside," she said. "You meet Bulgarians, Frenchmen, Uruguayans, you name it." She handed Hopps her painting. "Next," said Walter Hopps.

Greg Hannon, No. 18, brought a drawing of a wishbone done in colored pencil. "I finished it today," he said. "I came because of Hopps. I had a show at Haslem's in 1974. Hopps came into see it and didn't say a word; he ran out into the rain." Hopps asked Hannon if he made a living selling art. Hannon said he did. "Good," said Walter Hopps.

Elizabeth Vail, 54, who was artist No. 24, told Hopps her "See-Through Pollock" should be hung against the light."We'll see what we can do," he said.

Hopps told Renee Butler that the work she had brought in -- a half-stuffed fabric bag suspended from a pole -- was bigger than allowed, more than 4 feet long. "But I know Helen," she explained. "Helen who?" he asked. "Your ex-wife," said Renee Butler. "We'll try," said Hopps.

Outside on the street, Jim McLaughlin from the Phillips, Ramon Osuna from the Pyramid, and Jack Rasmussen from Rasmussen's, were studying the crowd. "Say I'm scouting," said Osuna.

Hopps' face appeared on paper masks that Anne Wood was handing out to members of the crowd. A petition, asking the D.C. Arts Commission for more such open shows, was passed down the line. Bigga Arnebeck showed his "Dictatorship of the Artist Manifesto" to all who expressed interest. It began with a sentence -- "I am inclined to think artists should guarantee each other a living, independently of dealers" -- which Arnebeck ascribed to Van Gogh.

One by one the woodcuts, drawings, oils, etchings, assemblages and photographs went up on the wall. Hopps would mark a spot, an aide would drive a nail, the picture would be hung, and the work would start again. By 10 a.m. more than 320 works of art had been accepted for display. Hopps at 8 a.m. had gone upstairs to nap. Pictures he had not installed were leaning against the walls.

His eyes were red, his green suit wrinkled. He sipped at his black coffee. "The show so far," he said, "looks pretty good to me. I was thinking as I fell asleep that with slides of all this work you could teach a class, say of Harvard sophomores, a great deal about art.

"The selection here is random, but so in other ways is that of Mr. [Andrew] Mellon's pictures. Think about materials, about the struggle to express feelings, about the form-content duality. Look around the gallery. There is a lot to learn."

Hopps talked about the number of photographs submitted. "The painting-oriented people do not raise their eyebrows when photographers join the party." He joked about the works submitted by Bob Stark and Michael Clark, both of whom had studios above the Ben Bow tavern on Connecticut Avenue. "Supra-Ben Bow pointillism is what I'd call their school," he said. "It was sweet and peaceful here last night. Ten years ago in Washington it would have been quite different."

"Ten years ago, Dr. King was just a few months dead. Ten years ago there would have been fewer blacks entering a show juried by a white man. The mood's more optimistic now, the high fever is gone. And the city is more cosmopolitan. Latin artists, some of whom have been here less than a year, found their way to the show."

"Look at this," said Hopps. From the wall beside his bed he took a color photograph of gawkers on Times Square that had been made in 1948 by Louis Faurer. "I brought it along for something to look at." As he spoke an aide brought in a little painting copied from a news photograph of Joe Alsop, the columnist and art connoisseur. "How strange," said Hopps. "Viva, Andy Warhol's friend, brought Louis Faurer's photographs to the attention of Colescott Chubb, the man who now promotes them. Chubb, I think, is Alsop's nephew. You expect these shows to be completely arbitrary. The moment that you start to look the connections start to grow."