Painting of a man, sitting with arms crossed next to a piece of graffiti reading "Mendoza"
Made in L.A. 2023: Joey Terrill

Joey Terrill’s intimate, stylized figurative works, many of which were made amid the devastations of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, depict gay Chicano men absorbed in the drama of desire. The work makes strong use of settings, both real and imagined, private and public, generic and identifiable, to contextualize the artist’s life and social scene. This strategy recurs throughout his work, often highlighting landmarks and sites in Los Angeles and New York. 

In self-portraits from the 1980s and in paintings of friends, Terrill’s figures speak to the queer community that defined his painting practice. The artist’s subjects lounge, embrace, and cohabitate. They tend to their lives and to each other with care and devotion. In recent works, Terrill has revisited photographs from a period of time he spent in New York as sources for new paintings, thus bringing formative memories into the present. Like all of his work, these pieces memorialize the people, places, and moments that shaped his life.


Joey Terrill (b. 1955, Los Angeles) received a BFA from Immaculate Heart College in 1976 and an MFA from California State University, Los Angeles, in 2001. When he was a high school student, Terrill volunteered as part of La Huelga, Cesar Chavez’s farmworkers’ unionization movement. Terrill is a longtime AIDS activist and was involved with the Metropolitan Community Church, the Gay Community Center, and the Gay-Ins at Griffith Park in the 1970s. Until recently he was director of global advocacy and partnerships for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Recent solo exhibitions include Park View / Paul Soto, Los Angeles (2022); Ortuzar Projects, New York (2021); and ONE Gallery, West Hollywood (2013). His work has been shown in recent group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2023); Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach (2022); La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Los Angeles (2022); El Museo del Barrio, New York (2021); San Diego Art Institute (2019); Palm Springs Art Museum, California (2019); and Fowler Museum at UCLA (2019).