KNOWING FULL WELL that generalizations are dangerous, I offer this one: All good artists are obsessive. They are obsessive about their materials, their subjects, their vision. Obsession provides the kind of focus that allows an artist to make an in-depth inquiry into a theme, and push it until the usual gives way and something new emerges.

This is the unifying thread of Consolidated Works' second visual art exhibition. Curated by Meg Shiffler, Do Not Touch collects the inquiries of 10 artists, most of whom work in delicate or unusual materials. Despite the enormous differences in sensibilities displayed here -- from detailed and intricate work to large-scale installation -- the show holds together wonderfully, each artist demonstrating work that is the visible manifestation of deep involvement with an idea.

On one end of the scale, obsession is suggested by small and painstaking work. Portland artist Maria Inocencio's collages Hairbrush Coils and 14 Days with Interruptions are made of the artist's hair, each hair individually glued down in a spiral pattern (for Coils), or in connected stripes (for 14 Days). Besides being beautiful -- the pieces recall Agnes Martin's grids, in which each line is drawn as carefully as if it were the only one possible -- this work brings to mind a kind of saintlike ritual. One imagines the artist collecting these relics one by one, crouched over a table and patiently gluing them down: a record of the act of hair-brushing; time measured in hair. In so doing, Inocencio engages the viewer in close contemplation of what a line is, what it does, and where it comes from.

Seattle's Matthew Landkammer investigates color and transparency on small wood panels, some of which curve politely away from the wall. Under layers of alkyd glaze, colors and patterns grow faint, a suggestion rather than a presence. Lengths of sewing thread embedded in a last layer of wax call attention to the surface. Landkammer's work, like Inocencio's, doesn't really register from afar; it asks the viewer to come close. And as with Incocencio's work, the layers and the patient application of thread speak to the actual effort of creation.

D'Arcy McGrath's little assemblages are quirkier than the abstract work shown around them, but come closer to objects of worship. McGrath, a local artist, has paired her own cut-out drawings with a variety of materials (paper medicine cups, carved bars of soap, sequins, wire) to create a series called Love Interest Prototype #23--#31. The name itself implies unreasonable fixation on an idea: What, after all, is a more delicate construct than a lover? One of the prototypes, a bird carved of soap, calls attention to its own delicacy, pleading, "Please don't harm me." But by then you've fallen in love with the object itself. You wouldn't dream of harming it.

Brooklyn artist Nayland Blake is less taken with a way of working than with a theme -- in this case, rabbits. Here he shows eight drawings, ranging from realistic rabbits to cartoon bunny-eyes; next to them limply hangs a neoprene bunny suit. The suit suggests the artist's complete involvement with his theme (does he wear it while he works?), but is not as satisfying as the more material-oriented work. For example, Portland's Stephanie Speight's installation, Momentum f = m x a, which features 12 enormous spheres of balled-up cash register tape suspended from the ceiling, is both witty and interesting. In contradiction to the exhibition's title, you can touch the work -- in fact you can walk through it, experiencing not only how the material looks, but how it sounds and feels as well.

Then there's the excellent work of two more Seattle artists. Colleen Hayward takes organic things such as horsetails and grasses and then works against them, clumping them together and covering them in pigment wax to create great wedges of material that become something else. Cris Bruch's Mantle is a gorgeous, large hollow form fashioned of pieced-together triangles in different sizes, looking like the complexities of a rock surface simplified into geometrical elements. The concave spaces created by the triangles dive deep into the form in some places, and create shallow stars in others; I walked around it six times, searching for words to describe it.

The crowning irony, or perhaps the beauty of Do Not Touch -- with its insistence on the delicate and ephemeral -- is that it's installed in the ConWorks warehouse, which is itself an ephemeral (read: doomed) object, as subject to destruction as hair, thread, or those little paper medicine cups from the dentist that you ball up and throw away.