In the Middle of It All
Acrylic on canvas (triptych)
25 1/2 x 90 5/8 x 1 3/4 in (64.8 x 230.2 x 4.4 cm) framed
Image © Joey Terrill / Courtesy Ortuzar Projects, New York
Joey Terrill (b. 1955) lives and works in Los Angeles. Emblematic of Terrill’s casting of gay life through a telenovela style narration, this painting blends interior psychological states with public, urban street life. The figures pictured in this triptych are a couple friend of the artist’s who moved to the East Village from LA.
A second-generation Los Angeles native, Terrill has critiqued Chicanismo and explored its cultural relationship to homosexuality over a four decade career—in paintings, drawings, zines, and collage. Particularly since testing positive for HIV in 1989, Terrill has directly addressed his status as a queer Chicano both in his art and his professional work as an HIV advocate. Engaged in the nascent Chicano Power and Gay Liberation movements since the early 1970s, Terrill was also exposed to diverse, overlapping creative scenes in California from a young age. Drawn to Sister Corita Kent’s visual language—which radically merged progressive Catholicism and Pop Art—Terrill attended Immaculate Heart College, where the art department was staffed by her former students. At the same time, he participated in the burgeoning Chicano avant-garde, absorbing influences ranging from ASCO’s guerrilla performances to Luis Valdez’s political El Teatro Campesino, and he exchanged “mail art” through Ray Johnson’s Correspondence School [see Ray Johnson in the Neal Baer Collection]. His early style references Mexican retablos, Pop art, fotonovelas, and twentieth-century comics, while his later, more technical paintings trace contemporaneous developments in photorealism and Conceptual art.