With the spate of fall openings in the next week or so, it would be a shame to miss "Puerto Rican Painting: Between Past and Present," at the Corcoran Gallery to Sept. 25. It's a major retrospective of the country's lush, impressionist heritage, illustrated with paintings from more than 35 artists representing five generations of work and growth.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

The National Symphony closes its summer season tonight with a free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol (rain date tomorrow night). Guest conductor Andrew Litton's program will include the complete ballet music for "Who Cares?" by George Gershwin, arranged by Hershey Kay, and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.

Brazilian guitarist Marcelo Kayath will perform Wednesday night at the OAS.

DANCE

The '87-88 dance season gets underway this coming weekend as the Dance Place launches a new edition of its weekly dance performance series, the flagship series for contemporary dance in Washington. Leading off the series, Friday through Sunday evening, will be the highly reputed, New York-based Stephen Petronio Dance Company, featuring a solo and two group works with choreography by the "Bessie" Award-winning Petronio, as performed by himself and the six other dancers of his troupe, with music by David Linton and Lenny Pickett.

POP MUSIC

Rap-sodic: that's the word at Capital Centre tonight when LL Cool J, Whodini, Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy join several other bands in a celebration of the hip-hop culture.

Two bands mattered in the British folk-rock revival: Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. The latter will be at the Birchmere Tuesday and Wednesday.

What a long strange road trip it's been: The Grateful Dead, at Capital Centre Friday, Saturday and Sunday