The exhibition featured a new body of photographic work by interdisciplinary artist Ken Gonzales-Day examining the mural landscape of LA—from East LA to Venice Beach, from Pacoima to South LA. Featuring over 140 photographs, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA considered what the city’s walls reveal about its diverse communities.
The exhibition demonstrated how Los Angeles understands its history and its values through the murals that decorate the city. Local communities honor their heritage by telling their own stories with their own voices. Residents pay homage to their idols and heroes. Graffiti artists declare their presence. Activists decry injustice and envision better worlds. Shopkeepers lure customers with hand-painted advertisements. Artists from around the globe make their mark on a rapidly changing urbanscape.
Recording Los Angeles’s unique visual identity and the diversity of its population and artistic production in the present moment, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Dayasked: What is a mural? Who speaks, and who decides what counts as art?
Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day was part of the Getty Institute's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California.