Ken Gonzales-Day, “Danny,” mural by Levi Ponce, Van Nuys Telfair Ave., Pacoima, 2013 | Photo by Ken Gonzales-Day

Hit play below to listen to KUSC’s Gail Eichenthal discuss “Surface Tension” with Ken Gonzales-Day on a bonus edition of Arts Alive.


A ten-month journey of artistic discovery across the city of Los Angeles has sparked a unique and colorful contribution to Pacific Standard time: LA/LA. “Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark-Making in LA” runs at the Skirball Cultural Center through February 25.

Gonzales-Day, a professor of art at Scripps College, spent almost a year traversing the freeways, alleyways, underpasses, commercial districts and residential areas of the city to capture the more than 100 photographs that cover the walls of the exhibition. The murals depicted are found on church doors, sides of buildings, spray-painted palm trees, a decorated RV, and more. In addition to the art at eye-level, the floor of the exhibition is covered with a map of Los Angeles indicating in which neighborhoods the murals can be found — from Pacoima to Watts, from Venice to East LA. 
Less than six years ago, mural-making had been banned in Los Angeles for around a decade. But now street art is once again on the rise amid the dramatic redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles.

While Los Angeles houses many of the country’s finest cultural institutions, the photographs and the map highlight the presence of art throughout the city. Gonzales-Day hopes that this exhibit will give Angelenos the “chance to venture into Los Angeles and experience what is really a city with a museum surrounding it.”

The title of the exhibition, “Surface Tension,” stems from the struggle some residents face to have their voices heard. As Gonzales-Day notes, “murals are often the only space that a community might have to express its history.” Encounters with Los Angeles’s street art reveals what makes each neighborhood unique and what themes tie this expansive city together.

Ken Gonzales-Day, Palm Trees at Venice Public Art Graffiti Walls, Venice Beach, 2017 | Photo by Ken Gonzales-Day

Ken Gonzales-Day, “Jim Morphesis,” mural by Kent Twitchell, Hollywood Freeway at Hope St. exit, Downtown Los Angeles, 1984 | Photo by Ken Gonzales-Day

Street art across Los Angeles | Photo by Ken Gonzales-Day

Ken Gonzales-Day | Photo by Gail Eichenthal

“Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day” is on display at the Skirball Cultural Center until February 2018. For more information on the exhibition, the artist, and related events visit

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