Artists in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties are finding exhibition space in unexpected places.

Art and sport will be getting together Oct. 23-Dec. 31 when the Laurel Racetrack Association and the Laurel Art Guild (776-3491) sponsor a show in the upper rooms of the track's clubhouse. Built around a theme of horses, the show will be open during racing hours.

Art has another unusual setting in the Capital Gallery at the Capital Center in Landover. Open during events at the center, the gallery features monthly exhibits by artists and craftsmen from Prince George's County. Volunteers who staff the gallery recieve four free seats for the night they work.

For information on volunteers, exhibits call 277-2200 ext. 396.

Not far from the Capital Centre is the Marlboro Gallery at Prince George's Community College (336-6000, ext. 512). The gallery has monthly exhibits by artists both from within and outside the college. From Oct. 17-21 it will offer a special exhibition on the arts of Japan, including an afternoon of demonstrations on Oct. 20. All events are free and open to the public.

Several commercial galleries in Montgomery County are conveniently close together. In old Kensington the Plum Gallery (933-0222), the Smull Gallery (946-6262) and Tomorrow's Sunrise Gallery (933-6506) are within a few blocks of each other.

The October shows at Plum and Smull, both drawing on cultures of the east, are two of the season's most unusual. On Oct. 5 Smull opens "The Dragon Cloth and Other Textiles," a collection of antique Asian textiles. Beginning Oct. 14 artist Minnie Klavans will be exhibiting her modern version of scrolls at the Plum.

According to director Lynn Pruitt, Tomorrow's Sunrise aims "to present a serious alternative to the downtown gallery row." Among its upcoming shows is a retrospective in November devoted to the works of Lithuanian-born sculptor Inda Lepson.

All three Kensington galleries have evenings when the public can hear talks about the exhibits and meet the artists.

"Bringing the artist and collector together in a uniquely personal way" is a primary purpose of a new series featuring works on paoer at the Lorenz Gallery (645-602) in Chevy Chase, says director Susan Ohle. Entitled "Washington Artist of the Month," the series began in September with acrylics on paper by Ellouise Schottler. Silkscreens by Rudy Ayoroa will open with a reception Oct. 9 when the public is invited to meet the artist.

Also on Wisconsin Avenue near the Lorenz Gallery is the Government Services Savings and Loan central office (986-6738) in Bethesda. Walls of the ground floor banking facility are used for exhibits, which change every two months, based either on works from the bank's own collection of works by contemporary Washington artists.

Nearby in Bethesda Square is the Premiere Gallery (951-0290) which opened in August. Included in its roster of 14 artists are painters, photographers, a weaver, a sculptor and a ceramist specializing in crystalline glazes.

Area educational institutions also have galleries which open to the public. Both the Takoma park (587-4090) and Rockville (762-7400 ext. 222) campuses of Montgomery College have art galleries with exhibits changing monthly. The University of Maryland gallery (454-2763) changes every two months. The Gudelsky Gallery (649-4454) is housed at the Maryland College of Arts and Design in Silver Spring.

Faculty and student shows are only part of these schools' exhibits which include shows by national, and even international, as well as area artists. Works on loan from France will be included in the University of Maryland gallery's November-December show entitled "French Watercolor Landscapes of the 19th Century."

Four groups will join for the second juried Montgomery County artists show, devoted this year to prints and sculpture, (468-1172). Sponsors will be the Recreation Department and Art Association of the county plus the Rockville Art League and the Rockville Gallery of Montgomery College, where the show will run Feb. 2-Mar. 20.

Most of the commercial galleries offer works in a wide range of price that can start as low as $25 and extend, in some cases to several thousand dollars. Many have special holiday shows to promote the idea of giving original works of art as gifts. Both Tomorrow's Sunrise and Gallery on the Park (270-6633) in Takoma park are planning Christmas shows. It is possible to commission a work of art or craft item. Glen Echo Gallery's (492-6282) wood workers work almost exclusively on special commissions as does the weaver at premiere Gallery.