At first glance, Mark Sheinkman and Annabel Daou, who are exhibiting work in separate shows at Gallery Joe, seem to have little in common.
The lines in Sheinkman's graphite drawings - as often erasures as they are pencil rendered - are loopy and swooping like lariats, roller coasters and highway cloverleafs. They're enigmatic, but have a distinctly American heritage behind them, from late Jackson Pollock to early Frank Stella to recent-vintage Brice Marden.
Daou documents the passage of time in tiny, cramped ink notations on pieces of folded paper that resemble pages from a book (one of her pieces is, in fact, a 120-page book tracing the last six months of her life through a sequence of words that repeat from page to page).
It came as no surprise that he is a New York-born Princeton alum and that she was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and graduated from Barnard College. You can see in their work what these two contemporary, New York-based artists have been exposed to.
Some time later, however - perhaps even after you've left the gallery - you realize how much Sheinkman and Daou share. Both create works on paper that immediately and concisely stretch the boundaries of drawing. They are also both masters of intrigue in their own different ways.
In Sheinkman's case, you recognize an extension of abstraction in the vein of Marden's recent explorations of line. Daou's works are the result of a diaristic, repetitive, mystical activity that brings to mind medieval manuscripts and chants but also such contemporary artists as Ann Hamilton and the late Mark Lombardi, whose diagrammatic drawings were shown by the gallery last month.
Sheinkman's most recent drawings, 10.26.2006 and 11.5.2006 (all his works have dates as titles, presumably noting the day they were made or completed), are of curling white lines that look like cigarette smoke or jet contrails - I am guessing the white lines are erasures, but perhaps they are the paper untouched by graphite. These are the most eye-catching of the works he is showing, but all of them have an appealingly mysterious character.
Some of Daou's efforts are also more prepossessing than the others.
That book, for example - along with the handsome white pedestal it sits on (designed by Amy Byrum), a hypnotic sound track of two voices reading (a collaboration with poet and sound artist Greta Byrum), and an accompanying series of drawings, it could have made up Daou's entire show. It's a poetic, site-specific work that was created to make the most of the churchlike atmosphere and acoustical properties of Gallery Joe's small "Vault Gallery." It does, memorably.
Fritz Dietel has lightened up. His latest wood sculptures, on view through next week at the Schmidt Dean Gallery, have more fluid, attenuated forms than the works that made up his show three years ago at this gallery, and his use of pigmented epoxy has become downright lavish and painterly. The sculptures also are more openly representational and eccentric than his quasi-abstract, less playful untitled works of three and four years back.
Champignon, a wacky, good-looking mushroom-shaped sculpture of pine and cedar suspended from the ceiling, is the star of the show, followed by Palm, a windblown palm of cedar and pine, and Flicker, the bird of the same name assembled from pieces of apple wood.
Dietel should continue exploiting his sense of humor. He seems to have a knack for transforming the ordinary into the exuberantly exotic.