Here comes a new art season. The Arlington Arts Center is beginning with a distinctive show entitled "Three Exhibitions/Painting." Three artists, each with a strong, individual style, have put together an interesting and unusual show.

Pat Abbott-Ryan uses primal shapes and bold colors to create sometimes disturbing images. The forms are simple, while the message remains multifaceted. Working in oil on canvas, Abbott-Ryan refers to her style of painting as "postmodern primitivism." She said she believes her images "contain a narrative thrust with themes that range from the duality of life to spiritual hunger and my own struggles with reality." The symbols are familiar and lend themselves to individual interpretation.

The work of Dennis Frings stands out among the three as the most innovative. His acrylic collages of various shapes, textures and colors result in unlikely harmony. Frings' work feels instinctively fresh and clean. Frings maintains sections of cool white space interspersed among otherwise cluttered space.

Obviously influenced by the Washington color school, Elizabeth Pajak's "Fan Study" series is strong and bright. The vibrant reds, greens and oranges force her work to visually move. Pajak says size is an important factor in her work. "Three Fans," for example, measures 102 by 72 inches. However, Pajak's comparatively small work, "Fan Study," 15 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches, is charming and more easily appreciated.

"Three Exhibitions/Painting" is exactly what its title proclaims. Through Oct. 7, The Arlington Arts Center, Arlington. Open Tuesday to Saturday. For more information, call 524-1494.

Other Events:

Gallery 4, "Forest Interiors," by John Morrell. Sunday to Oct. 29. Call 548-4600. Alexandria.

Emerson Gallery, "Katherine Axilrod--Paintings & Diane Tesler--Pastels." Through Oct. 8. Call 356-6799. McLean.

Riverside Gallery, group show of gallery artists. Through Oct. 2. Call (703) 491-3222. Occoquan.

Greater Reston Arts Center, Annual Artists/Designers Exhibition. Through Oct. 9. Call 471-9242. Reston.