ART

The next two weeks are the slowest of the year for art in Washington. Many museums are gearing up big shows for the fall, including the blockbuster openings of the spanking-new Smithsonians -- the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art on the Mall -- and the William Merritt Chase and Berthe Morisot shows at the National Gallery. While you're waiting, check out the more offbeat exhibits, like "Fiber Expressions: The Contemporary Quilt" at the Textile Museum, and the work of that always-stunning "calligrapher of the elements" John Marin, whose show opens Saturday at the Phillips.

FILM

Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin offer star-making performances in "The Big Easy," a romantic thriller directed by Jim McBride, who captures the atmosphere of New Orleans as provocatively as he captured the real Los Angeles in his earlier remake of "Breathless." The screenplay is written by Daniel Petrie Jr. of "Beverly Hills Cop" fame, who has outdone himself with the movie's smoking love scene. That and the Quaid-Barkin chemistry (part jambalaya, part adrenaline) make for bliss in the bayou. He's a crooked cop and she's a strait-laced D.A. investigating corruption in his precinct, where a series of mob-style murders may mask a greater mystery. Mostly it's sexy.

POP MUSIC

Roger Waters' "Radio KAOS" tour may be the most complex and visceral show to hit the Cap Centre in the next few months: The heart and soul of Pink Floyd is still the master of theatrical and conceptual rock. Tonight.

Salsa and other hot Latin styles will abound at the Carter Barron tonight when Willie Colon and Eddie Palmieri venture down from New York.

Todd Rundgren doesn't tour often enough but remains one of the most colorful and adventurous forces in pop music. He's at the Bayou tomorrow.

Liza with a Z (Minnelli to you) knocked 'em dead at Radio City a few months back and is reportedly looking and sounding better than ever. At the Post Pavilion on Tuesday.

Two good rock bands worth looking into: Firetown at the Bayou on Tuesday and Guadalcanal Diary at the 9:30 on Thursday. Opening for the latter band is Pianosaurus, which plays entirely on toy instruments (see it to believe how well they carry it off).

Word is there's going to be a lot less of bluegrass and old-timey giant Doc Watson on the concert stage starting next year, so check him out at Baird Auditorium on Wednesday and at the Birchmere Sept. 25. And Tony Trishka's Skyline, one of the more adventurous "newgrass" outfits, is breaking up after its Wednesday night concert at the Birchmere.

THEATER

This is the last night to see Potomac Theatre Project's auspicious debut, "No End of Blame," at Castle Arts Center.

Also worth a look: "Savage in Limbo," extended through Sept. 13, at the Washington Project for the Arts. Fine performances from all cast members, a comically sad sensibility and a sharp theme about the angst of finding hope in hopelessness all add up to a draining, yet deeply moving, experience.