CURATED | Exhibitions at SOPAC



Photographic Portraits by Micha Hamilton

February 21 - May 15, 2015

Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC Unveils
Photographic Portraits by Micha Hamilton

 l-r: 2014 Jazz Master Honoree McCoy Tyner, Steve Turre, Claudio Roditi

l-r: 2014 Jazz Master Honoree McCoy Tyner, Steve Turre, Claudio Roditi

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) unveils the latest in its rotating series of visual art exhibitions in the Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC.  On view through Friday, May 15, 2015 is GIANTS OF JAZZ 17 an exhibit of photographic portraits by New Jersey-based artist and curator Micha Hamilton.

To celebrate the exhibit SOPAC will host a free reception Sunday, March 15 from 4-6PM. In attendance will be the artist/curator and some of the jazz luminaries whose portraits are currently featured on the walls of the gallery.

Giants Of Jazz has become an annual music phenomenon, a one-night festival that has established South Orange as a New Jersey hub for world-class jazz. Founded in 1997 by John Lee, Giants Of Jazz honors exceptional musicians and keeps jazz visible and prominent in a region that is home to many world-class jazz artists and jazz music lovers.

The 17th Annual Giants of Jazz honoring legendary pianist McCoy Tyner was held at SOPAC on November 29, 2014 and the series of portraits in this exhibit were captured backstage that very evening.

Micha Hamilton’s quest to document the personalities of the Giants Of Jazz music event propels this new series of photographic portrait work. Incorporating stylistic elements suggestive of celebrity, ethnographic, and fine art portraiture found in the work of notable shutterbugs like Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Edward S. Curtis, and Yusuf Karsh, this medley of black-and-white and color photographs is presented in a bright and natural visual style inspired by photographer Richard Avedon’s series In The American West. Like Avedon’s series, the images are visually stark and free of clutter; as the subjects are presented in solitary against a plain white background, the viewer is directed into meditative moments with the players behind the performances.

In one image, Giants Of Jazz honoree McCoy Tyner (pictured left), the famed pianist is seen in quiet repose. Smartly attired with his eyes closed, a delicate “closed-mouthed” smile and arms comfortably held behind the back, he is simultaneously present and distracted, accessible and inaccessible, inviting one to ponder what melody or musical arrangement he may be tuned into, or that maybe he’s been caught in a moment of silence between notes.

In contrast to McCoy Tyner, Steve Turre (pictured center) explodes out of the photo in his red silk shirt and red alligator shoes, face framed by slicked-back hair and signature goatee with gleaming gold trombone in hand, as his dark suit fights to contain the energized personality within its threads. In a stance shifted to one side in a slight lean, his strong gaze and easy smile are simultaneously informed with a playful attitude and provocative confidence, boldly challenging us to go note-for-note with the legend known the world over as the ‘Shell Man.’

Brazilian trumpeter, flugelhorn player and Grammy Award nominee Claudio Roditi (pictured right) is known for his warm, fluid sound combining post-bop and Brazilian elements. His portrait brings us face to face with him and his iconic horn in in hand, fingers resting lightly on the keys. Roditi is relaxed and ready to play as he peers out at the viewer with his soft and friendly gaze. Dressed in a comfortable yet slightly oversized suit, he appears almost boyish, giving us a glimpse of the youthful spirit at the core of his accomplishments and wide appeal, a spirit that permeates his brand of jazz and endlessly energizes his audiences.

About Micha Hamilton

A graduate of Platt College of Design, Micha Hamilton is a published photographer, filmmaker, writer, and graphic designer. Since 2009, Hamilton has been curating events and exhibitions in the greater NY/NJ area, drawing on his passion for art and utilizing his extensive production, live entertainment and multi-media events experience. In 2010, he co-founded the visual arts exhibition and production space GAS Gallery And Studio in Maplewood, NJ. He is Owner and Art Director of MHP+D/Micha Hamilton Photography + Design, a boutique creative company providing clients with stunning visual imagery for commercial, non-commercial, and private needs. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Hamilton currently lives in Springfield, NJ. This is his first solo exhibition at The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery. For more information, visit

About the Herb & Milly Iris Gallery

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery brings contemporary art to the community, providing artists opportunities to reach new audiences in its unique public space. The Gallery is the impetus of former SOPAC Board Member Milly Iris. The late Milly Iris was an art teacher as well as the owner/director of South Orange’s Whichcraft Gallery. Together with her late husband, Milly and Herb were avid collectors, devoted arts advocates, and longtime supporters of SOPAC. The artwork on display is for sale with partial proceeds supporting SOPAC. For more information, visit


Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages.  To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory.  SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N’ the Hall performances and Seton Hall Theatre productions.  SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in residence, Midtown Direct Rep, and its dance company in residence, Lydia Johnson Dance.  For more information, visit