"People can't take Andy Warhol anymore -- the work is too dehumanizing," said painter Reginald Pollack, cutting a celebratory green after-opening cake on the diagonal. "Diagonals!" he confided with a big, bearded grin, "they're the secret behind my work."

There are, to be sure, diagonal aspects to Pollack's new paintings, "Forest Visions," at Jack Rasmussen Gallery, 313 G St. NW. But the compelling force behind his work is his cosmic view and passionate will to share it. "Art needs to be uplifting, exhilarating, a celebration of life!" he said, hacking off another triangular morsel. "Especially in times like these."

Pollack is a rare bird these days -- a visionary painter. And though he works in a glassed-in perch overlooking the woods of Great Falls, Va., the lush green landscapes he paints come straight out of his head. At first, they seem traditional forest views; but within them, tiny humanoids begin to emerge, unspecific nude figures made of swift, masterful swirls of paint.

Pollack calls them "angels or people -- and I love them," he said. Others of us do not love them and wish they'd go away, leaving the pure, joyful landscape behind.

"They mean everything," said Pollack, for whom the little figures stand for mankind, good and evil, life. They are essential players in his grand, sometimes operatic scenarios. They populate his world exclusively.

Whether the humanoids are an asset or not, in this show Pollack has integrated them most successfully into his works.

They romp most satisfyingly in "Big Wind," where they are swept up in the sheer vigor of the paint.In the glass-like forest pond of "Reflections" and the breeze-whipped "Wind on the River" -- two of the best paintings in the show -- they intrude not at all. They simply stand there, insisting that this is Pollack's fantasy world, not ours.

The show continues through Dec. 1.

Jerry Clapsaddle, pattern painter, is showing new work at Protetch-McIntosh, 2151 P St. NW. Even for an avowed Clapsaddle fan, it is n esthetically troubled show.

Most disappointing is the absence of his earlier deep, emotionally enveloping color, now turned cool and distant. He has also begun to introduce distinct human images which gradually emerge from his typical grid-based overlays of repeated marks of color: These paintings do not work, and in trying to combine two extremes of expression -- realism and abstraction -- he fudges both.

But Clapsaddle, who has -- justifiably -- a reputation that now stretches as far as Paris, has also taken some steps forward in this show, which is full of homages to artist friends.

For Gene Davis he has made a successful diptych called "Gene's Pair," though it lacks any reference to Davis' vast vocabulary of color. More affecting is the work dedicated to painter-colleague Anne Truitt, "3 for Anne," which consists of three side-by-side, door-shaped canvases, each based on a diagonal grid. At first glance they appear to be alike. But after prolonged looking, subtle changes, even vast ranges, appear: from the predominant poppy-orange in the left panel to a violet-red on the right. Here Clapsaddle has captured the essence of his subject: The longer you look, the more you see. This painting alone is worth the trip. The show closes Nov. 17.

From 100 prints submitted by area women, 26 were selected for the "Printmakers' Show II" now at the Washington Women's Arts Center, 1821 Q St. NW. The juror was Janet Flint, graphics curator at the National Collection of Fine Arts.

The Center seeks to foster new as well as seasoned talent, and both are represented. But there is disturbingly little exuberance in either camp.

The whole show should have been titled after Leslie Reese's serigraph "Late Autumn." Perhaps it is a reflection of the times.

There are exceptions, the most colorful being Ann Zahn's handsome patchwork print called "100 Views of Home." Others include Vivianne de Kosinsky's pair of doves, two landscapes by Mary W. Heiss, two surrealist serigraphs by Jo Wright Whitten from Chapel Hill (the Center's reach is lengthening), and examples by Ann R. Langdon, Lindsay Makepeace, Enid Romanek, Charlotte Raines and Joy Halsted, who has made a fold-and-box-it lithograph that would be a welcome addition to any child's room. Through Nov. 24.