11 / 27

Some of Gruzis’s most-returned-to subjects, like palm trees and wayfarer sunglasses, point to the influence L.A. has had on his work. “It was definitely formative for me,” he says of his time there. “When I was growing up in Milwaukee, we had family that lived out West, so I had this fascination with California at a early age. I use California as a foil for a certain concentrated type of Americana. I think L.A. is the most American city in a lot of ways. Hollywood and the media culture impacts how we see ourselves — they make the mirror.” Gruzis tends to reference ways of seeing in his work in general, hence the sunglasses.