Los Angeles

Patrick Nickell

The Luckman Gallery

Occasionally, an exhibition at a smaller LA venue suggests the bigger ones might be getting sleepy at the wheel. This season—marked by such misuse of space as the too-close-to-corporate J. Mays car show at LA MoCA and LACMA’s Edmier/Fawcett Pygmalion-fest—was ultimately made memorable when Cal State’s underrecognized university gallery mounted a long-overdue first survey of works by local artist Patrick Nickell. Like wallflowers, these pieces never flaunt themselves but are well worth getting to know.

“Built for Speed” shared its title with Nickell’s first solo show, in 1990, at the now-defunct Sue Spaid Gallery. The title’s reuse reflects the artist’s ability to breathe new life into castoffs, and the phrase itself notes his penchant for soapbox-derby technology and lemonade-stand production budgets. Already glimmering with his oeuvre’s core values are untitled works made between 1991 and

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