They're looking for a few good artists. The Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in Laurel, run by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has put out a call for proposals for two-dimensional artwork that will eventually grace area signs. Beginning in the fall, suburban motorists zipping by a number of Rollins Communications billboards are likely to see works of art instead of advertisements. Artists are being asked to submit up to three scale drawings. Three artists, to be chosen by Whitney Museum of American Art Associate Curator Patterson Sims, will have their work enlarged to fit a 14-by-48-foot billboard.

The program is a continuation of the commission's commitment to its "Art in Public Places" program, which officially ended when its government funds were cut in the late '70s, says the commission's visual arts director, Margery Applebaum. Applebaum and the commissioners began looking for businesses that might help support a similar program, and they also began to look for a suitable curator for the project. They found one in Patterson Sims.

"He has a very good eye," says Applebaum of Sims, "and he is in a position to help younger artists." Though the commission does use local curators for its exhibitions, it chose a New Yorker to bring an objective view to the selection, Applebaum says.

"This is a pilot program, and we hope it will become an ongoing program," she says.

More information can be obtained from the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center, 12826 Laurel-Bowie Rd., Laurel, Md. 20708 (953-1553).