Joey L’s wandering eye leads him back to town

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Joey L photographed religious figures over several years during his travels for “Holy Men,” his new exhibit at Open Shutter Gallery.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

When last we left photographer Joey L in 2010, the young shutterbug wasn’t even old enough to enjoy a glass of wine at the opening of his first show at Open Shutter Gallery.

Since then, he’s added to his bank of frequent-flier miles with trips to India and Europe, and he barely had time catch his breath at his New York home this week in between returning from Indonesia and heading west to Durango for tonight’s opening of his new exhibit “Holy Men.” Many of the images in the show will be seen for the first time ever in this show.

“I haven’t shown these anywhere before, and it’s really cool because some are a few years old,” Joey said.

His surname is Lawrence, but he goes by Joey L to distance himself from the 1980s actor of the same name.

“I needed it to be bigger and come from more locations, so it felt like a collection and not just a series,” Joey said. “But it’s all focused on religious and spiritual leaders in whatever community I was shooting at the time, which was usually for a different project. So this is great to put it all together finally.”

Durango is hardly an exotic location for Joey considering his travel log, but he said he quickly developed an affinity for our town after the 2010 show.

“There’s something about that town that’s really nice, and it has a great scene of people who appreciated good photography – they can talk more than just lenses,” he said.

“Holy Men” includes religious leaders from several African countries as well as India, Indonesia and the Himalayas. He’s put a lot of time and money into creating the prints for the show, including some panoramic images. One, of a man rowing a boat, is about 100 inches wide and gives the viewer the impression that he or she is a passenger.

“They’re environmental portraits, but it’s more the way our vision works; animorphic instead of a closed-off scene. It mimics the way the human eye sees it,” he said.

Joey L will attend tonight’s opening reception before jetting off for his next shoot, a commercial job in Los Angeles. He said he’s not sure where his next trip will take him, but he promised that fans in Durango will be on the short list to see the photographic results.

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