When Robert E. Simon Jr. conceived the planned community of Reston in the early 1960s, he envisioned an arts center with a gallery on Lake Anne.

About 12 years ago, a group of about 24 local artists made that vision a reality with the creation of the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). Still going strong today, with many of the original members still on board, the group always has something going on in its light-filled gallery.

Right now, there is a mixed media show by four local artists on exhibit through the end of January. Each display is impressive, but there is some lack of cohesion. Nonetheless, the quality of the art is consistently outstanding and compensates for the exhibits' eclecticism.

The most unusual offering is a series of hanging, soft sculptures of Bedouin women by Kathleen Dustin. Each figure, about two feet tall, wears the traditional colorful costumes of the Bedouins and has a surreal quality. Each manages to convey a dream-like quality while maintaining sharp detail, so that the figures end up effectively combining fantasy and reality.

The gallery itself consists of three airy rooms that overlook the lake. In a small shop, the group sells a variety of crafts, from jewelry to watercolors. Pru Herrick, artist emeritus of GRACE, is on hand to answer questions about the gallery or the artists and their work.

GRACE puts a professional polish on a community effort: The Greater Reston Arts Center, 11400 Washington Plaza West, Reston. 471-9242. Other Events:

* Katherine Steiger, Silk Paintings. Ten works reflecting the technique of silk painting. Through Feb. 3. Northern Virginia Community College, Manassas Campus, 6901 Sudley Rd., Manassas. For more information, call 368-0184.

* The 18th annual Art Collectors Show and sale, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chapter of Hadassah. March 6, at the Springfield Hilton, 6500 Loisdale Rd., Springfield. For more information, call 250-6022.