September. Fall. Back to school. Return to work. Back inside.

Hard to believe, but it's the last full week of August. In the lull before Labor Day, symphonies, art galleries, museums, dance groups and others are putting the final touches on plans for the new season.

Though the weather should be pleasant into early fall, the summer's most visible and enjoyable cultural event -- the outdoor concert -- is winding down. This summer's outdoor season has been hot and humid (typical) and plagued by cicadas (not typical and very annoying). Despite all that, there still has been nothing better than a pink dusk in Washington, a thunderstorm gathering in the distance, a picnic on the grass and the strains of music into the night.

So catch what's left this week and next before you head indoors:

The Navy's Country Current plays country and bluegrass on the Air and Space Musuem's west terrace at noon each Thursday through Sept. 10.

The 25th season of carillon concerts will end Saturday at the Netherlands Carillon near Arlington National Cemetery. From the bell tower in Virginia you can watch the lights play on the Capitol as guest carillonneur George Matthews Jr. of Stamford, Conn., strikes the wooden levers and pedals and makes the bells ring from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

There are still two more chances to catch the Concerts on the Canal at the Foundry Mall in Georgetown, held from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. On Sept. 6, the Irish band Celtic Thunder will perform, along with the swing and be-bop crooners of Uptown and Lenny Cuje's jazz quintet. And on Sept. 20, it's folk music from the Pete Kennedy trio and the big band western swing of Cowboy Jazz.

Communities in Concert, a series on ethnic band music at the National Museum of American History's outdoor band shell, concludes its season with four concerts on various styles of black American band music. The Pan Masters Steel Drum Band performs in the first concert Sunday at 4 p.m. Featured in upcoming weeks: Kings of Harmony, Sept. 13; the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Sept. 20; and the Cardozo High School Band, Sept. 27.

But perhaps the two best places are (gasp!) in the suburbs: Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia and Wolf Trap in Vienna. The mood at the pavilion is fast-paced and casual as people spread out on the sloping lawn with beers and Dove Bars to listen to music. There is a range of performers left to see: Los Lobos on Friday, the Oak Ridge Boys on Saturday and Liza Minnelli on Sept. 1. Out at stately and serene Wolf Trap, the season lasts through Sept. 8. Choices include Emmylou Harris tonight, "South Pacific" with Robert Goulet from Sept. 1 through 6 and Barbara Mandrell on Sept. 8.

Last, best and saddest: the National Symphony's Labor Day concert at the Capitol. After the last notes fade into the night, pack up your picnic basket and blanket, and once home put them deep into your closet. Until next year.

News

The "Dog" photography show at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery has been extended an extra week, through Saturday, because of popular demand. "We've had several thousand people here, and they all have dog stories," says Ewing. "I think dogs are something everyone -- even those scared of art -- can feel comfortable with." There is still a lot of work for sale, ranging from a $15 dog poster to a $4,500 William Wegman photograph of his best friend, Man Ray.

The AFL-CIO dedicated a sculpture of labor czar George Meany at the George Meany Memorial Archives in Silver Spring last week. Robert Berks, best known for his John Kennedy bust in the Kennedy Center and the Albert Einstein monument on Constitution Avenue NW, used his inimitable clumpish style to evoke Meany. Berks left out nothing: Meany's omnipresent cigar is now forever clutched in the labor leader's fingers.

Opportunities

Four art venues are looking for artists:

The New Art Center is seeking two-dimensional "nonobjective, nonrepresentational work that will evoke recollections from within the experience of the viewer" (you figure it out). The show, "Abstractions," will run Sept. 11 through Oct. 4. The deadline is Friday. Call 291-2999. The center is also looking for designs for a new logo to be used on its brochure, stationery and bulletin. It's needed by September. Call 656-3329 for details.

The Washington Project for the Arts is seeking local artists for its eighth annual art auction, Nov. 22 at Duke Ellington School for the Arts. The deadline for slide submissions is Sept. 30. Call 347-4813 for details.

The Athenaeum in Alexandria wants the same -- slides and proposals -- for a possible exhibition there in the fall. The deadline is also Sept. 30. Call 548-0035.

If you can't draw, there are other opportunities:

The Claudia Murphey Dance Company will audition male and female dancers today from 12:30 to 2. The next performance will be in late October. Call 338-7845.

The ADD Arts Festival is looking for volunteers to help run its downtown Labor Day celebration. The annual arts event features dance, music, poetry, actors, art and films. Call Ed Gramlich at 342-0567.