Currently Hanging

Dan McCleary’s Tense, Bare-Bones Dramas

Not much has changed in the paintings of Dan McCleary since last we saw them at the David Beitzel Gallery. Mr. McCleary is still infusing a hushed, Renaissance-like clarity onto the most innocuous of locales-in this case, the doughnut shop down the way-and he’s still creating tense, bare-bones dramas from the most innocuous of events: waiting for a friend, scratching at a Lotto ticket, things like that. His inventory of props hasn’t changed much, either-at this point, that black napkin dispenser and those pink cake boxes have Mr. McCleary’s name written all over them-nor has his gift for concentrating social disaffection into the tersest of nuggets.

Yet, just as one is about to conclude that this is a painter who’s going nowhere, one begins to note subtle shifts in emphasis: a bit more body to the brushwork, a bit more bite to the color, a bit more crispness to the light. With an artist as “prudish” as this one-and that’s Mr. McCleary’s description, not mine-these bits count for something, and that something is an art which moves with the speed, but also the decisiveness, of a glacier. I wish his human subjects were invested with the same somber purposefulness his soda straws and coffee stirrers claim. Yet Orange Juice (2000), with its ambience of longing and grievance, is as close as Mr. McCleary has come to realizing his immaculately plotted art. And there’s every reason to believe he’s not content at stopping there. Dan McCleary is at David Beitzel Gallery, 102 Prince Street, until Oct. 6.

Art That Traverses The Kama Sutra?

Few contemporary painters work a surface with as much surety as Sharon Horvath, whose abstractions are on display at Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Each of her pictures is a virtual encyclopedia of painterly tacks-thick and thin, fast and slow, scraping and splashing, blunt brushstrokes that obliterate and the most refined of gestures, the latter usually in the form of discreet oddments of collage. Ms. Horvath doodles, too-making notes, listing numbers and scratching patterns. The variousness of her mark-making complements the variousness of her pictorial motifs. Traversing the architectural, the astronomical, the topographical and what might just be the Kama Sutra, Ms. Horvath’s art hints at beguiling intersections of thought and practice, but refuses to underline or elaborate on them.

This gentle and by no means unappealing belligerence has something of the character of folk art, of a confidential, off-kilter cosmology cobbled into shape. Unlike the folk artist, however, Horvath the painter has a way of outrunning Horvath the visionary: Her virtuosity tends to skim over rather than weight her talismans and diagrams. The work lacks metaphoric density. Still, this is good stuff-taciturn in its charm, clunky in its elegance and driven by curiosity. Ms. Horvath suggests that some secrets are more intriguing for having been kept. During the time spent with her paintings, one can’t but help agree. Sharon Horvath: Recent Work is at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 724 Fifth Avenue, until Oct. 6. Currently Hanging