The weather Saturday was auspicious, sunny and warm, a marked contrast to the deluge that canceled the ADD Arts '87 Festival over Labor Day weekend. Organizers rescheduled and squeezed the original two-day affair -- which was to feature singers, dancers, actors and artists spread all over downtown Washington -- into one afternoon on one block of Eighth Street NW, between D and E. The turnout was well below the thousands expected in September, with only a few hundred people meandering along the Artists Alley.

But those who came looked as though they were enjoying themselves. Kids and childlike adults wielding chalk made the pavement a multicolored mural. Some preferred to work with paints along a canvas "graffiti wall," creating everything from a minimalistic line drawing to an elaborate waterfall. Across the blocked-off street, artists painted children's faces for Halloween.

People wandered in and out of the bare rooms of the newly dedicated Stables Building Arts Complex, opened earlier in the day in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Marion Barry Jr. The building will provide affordable space for arts organizations downtown; it will also be home for the D.C. Commission on the Arts.

Local artists who performed included poets Essex Hemphill, Wayson Jones and Michelle Parkerson, the reggae band Black Sheep and the dance ensemble Ajax Moving Company. The Washington Project for the Arts and d.c. space, nearby on Seventh Street NW, opened their doors for passers-by.

For a moment the sunny streets seemed to belong to local artists, who smiled at the emerging scene of galleries, frame shops and performing spaces. One wrote on the ground in bright purple, "Let art arise and light the world."

Fuentes to George Mason

Carlos Fuentes, noted Mexican novelist, will come here next year to fill a new $400,000 professorial chair at George Mason University, Virginia's fast-growing state-supported university. Located in Fairfax, George Mason has been ambitiously raising its visibility locally and nationwide with new construction; upgrading of its arts, engineering and public policy disciplines; a campaign to attract prominent professors; and an improved athletics program. That's a lot, considering that George Mason began in 1964 with only four buildings and a few dozen students. There are 18,000 today.

The Heritage chair in the arts and cultural criticism is financed by money raised from an arts gala last year. Fuentes was chosen for his re'sume', which combined both politics and writing. The best known of his 25 novels is "The Death of Artemio Cruz" (1962). Other works include "Burnt Water" and "The Old Gringo" and aso many essays and dramas.

During his tenure at George Mason, Fuentes will teach, and on Thursdays will give a free weekly lecture series open to the public. Topics include "The Political Experience of Independence," "The Indian Tradition" and "Conquest and Counterconquest: The Search for a Name and a Voice."

"It is a tremendous opportunity for us all to gain a greater understanding of our relationship to the world community," said George Mason President George Jackson. "Fuentes is an elegant thinker."

Art Notes

Two events this week focus on the topic of death. At the Fondo del Sol, there's "The Day of the Dead," a festive celebration of Mexican death artifacts from the collection of Sal Scalora. It begins tonight with a lecture from 6 to 8; the show continues through Dec. 10. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is hosting a free lecture, "Festivals of Death and Life," from noon to 1:30 on Thursday. If you suffer from seasonal depression, listen to this from the brochure: "Celebrations of fall and winter emphasize death, the harvest and other reminders of the end of life." Maybe it's time to get out the halogen lamp.

The Dance Exchange is holding an open house for people 60 years or older interested in joining Dancers of the Third Age, a senior adult dance company, from 10:30 to noon tomorrow at the Glen Echo Dance Theater in Glen Echo Park. The troupe rehearses one morning a week and performs about once a week.

Baltimore's Peabody Symphony Orchestra will give a free preview concert Friday at the National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue NW of the music it will be playing later this month in the Soviet Union. The group, which will perform Nov. 16 and 17 in Moscow, is the first student orchestra from an American music school to play in the Soviet Union in more than 20 years.

Coming Up

If you've always dreamed of having a Persian rug, you can ogle in a big way at the Textile Museum's new show opening Saturday, "Woven From the Soul, Spun From the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran, 16th-19th Centuries." There will be more than 40 rugs and 80 textiles from all over the country, woven in rich colors and intricate designs.