Island police officer finds path through photography
By day, Joey Quiroga wears a badge and a gun. When the police officer isn’t keeping Galveston’s streets safe, he’s armed with a camera.
Quiroga, a self-taught photographer and artist, took an interest in art at an early age in his uncle’s studio. Over the years, he honed his talents and his eye.
Quiroga shoots in digital, and enhances his work with what he calls an artful twist. One photo he shot on an African safari of a lion looks like a photograph. But zoom in on it, and you’ll see brush strokes.
His first inspiration was Ansel Adams, the famous American landscape photographer who shot in black and white. Quiroga sees color in Adams’ work, he said.
While he respects the rules of photography, he also likes to disregard them and explore the art, he said. He likes to shoot in color and mirror his work.
“I’m still learning,” he said.
He has been known to photograph weddings, but what he’s drawn to are old signs, barns and vintage items that evoke nostalgia. He also likes to photograph Galveston’s birds, pelicans in particular.
Quiroga’s work represents a variety of island life — motorcycles from the Lone Star Rally, alley cats of Galveston and photos from Hurricane Ike.
“I find inspiration all around,” he said.
A few years ago, Quiroga donated one of his photos to a charity auction. A bidding war ensued, and a path was revealed. Since then, many of Quiroga’s photos have sold for charitable causes.
“Joey will give you the shirt off his back,” his wife, Melinda Medellin, said.
Quiroga until recently owned the Tremont Gallery Galveston, 511 23rd St., where he exhibited the work of local artists for several years. His vision for the gallery was one of artists collaborating.
Putting everyone together cultivates a diverse and successful scene, he said.
Artist Renee Rodriguez created a tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting that was exhibited there. The work, “Viva Pulse:” A Visual Photography Exhibit Tribute for the Orlando Pulse Tragedy Victims, received national attention. Rose West, who specializes in shell art, also exhibited there.
In October, Quiroga sold Tremont Gallery Galveston to Scott and Samitha Edwards, who renamed it From the HeART Gallery, and plan to continue exhibiting Quiroga’s work, along with other artists.
In June, Quiroga opened The Strand Gallery, where he exhibits his art exclusively. He’s constantly growing the collection there. He also has two more projects in the making.
“Photography has been good to me,” Quiroga said. “I’ve been fortunate.”
What he seems most proud of, though, is of a picture done by another Quiroga artist, 7-year-old Shawn.
Shawn’s “House on a Hill” is on display at the bar at Riondo’s Ristorante in downtown Galveston. Riondo’s owner Don McClaugherty personally picked out and paid for Shawn’s work.
Talent runs deep in this family.
The Strand Gallery
2418 Strand St., Suite D, Galveston