As the title indicates, the current exhibit at the Arlington Arts Center, "Beyond The Quilt: New Ways, New Images" approaches the craft of quilting with a contemporary eye. The quilt works here reach into the realm of the fine arts.

Traditional quilting methods have not been left out of this exhibit entirely. Instead, familiar stitching patterns and pieces of fabric take on odd roles and new forms. "Escape from Block Nine," by Sue Pierce, a predominantly black quilt with repeated three dimensional fuchsia blocks, has a sculptural quality. The block patterns stitched onto the quilt continue off the main piece of work and rest on an independent lucite stand.

Ardyth Davis has the largest pieces in the show. These beautifully painted fabrics in silk and muslin have the look of large paintings. The stitching, though minimal and subtle, is large in the 92-by-87-inch work entitled "Tied Bars/Mauve-Jade." Davis concentrates on soft, smooth color gradations and keeps most of the quilting along the edges of her work.

Not all the works are of fabric. Some are of paper and would be better described as paper scuplture. Robert J. Cwiok, director of the Arts Center, explained that juror Paul J. Smith looked for "scraps that were meticulously put together by hand."

The strong crafts influence is seen in each carefully constructed work. Every stitch, each piece of cloth, feathers and tiny beads reveal these artists precious concern for detail and skill.

All of the artists in the show are women, an accidental tribute to the skills that found their origin in the quilting bees of America.

The exhibit continues through Feb. 16. For details call 524-1494.

Other Events:

The Arlington Players present "The Lion in Winter" Feb. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23. For details call 750-0888.

The Touchstone Theatre Company presents the comedy "Baby with the Bathwater" Feb. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17. For details call 893-6806.

Arthur Peterson will appear in "Robert Frost: Fire and Ice" at the George Mason University Harris Theatre Feb. 7, 8, 9 and 10. For details call 323-3535.