Washington artist John Grazier, homeless until recently, signed a $125,000 contract this week to produce 18 black-and-white airbrush paintings for the Greyhound Bus Terminal restoration now underway at 1100 New York Ave. NW.

"This is it: This is the beginning," says Grazier, who was sleeping under bridges until his successful show in June at Zenith Gallery. He spoke from a recently rented Northwest apartment, which boasts not only Grazier's first telephone in years, but also an answering machine, a color TV and a futon.

Grazier, who has been obsessed with buses for years and went broke trying to own and maintain two of them, is also having a large drawing table built to accommodate the commissioned 4-by-8-foot paintings.

One will show Mount Rushmore reflected in the windshield of a bus. Another will be a view of some tourist buses seen over Abe Lincoln's shoulder from the perspective of the Lincoln Memorial.

"It's good for me and I think it's going to be good for them because they're going to be wonderful paintings," said Grazier of his contract with the building's Canadian developers, Manulife Real Estate. The restoration of the terminal is part of an agreement with Manulife and area preservationists to keep the 1930s art deco building by architect William S. Arrasmith intact as a lobby-entrance to a 12-story office building going up behind it. Grazier's murals will replace the faded photographs of Greyhound buses that once hung there.

"It's a tribute to Greyhound, which is a symbol of America and freedom, especially for poor people," says Grazier. "I've always had a lot to talk about with Greyhound drivers. I'll have even more to say to them now!"