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Herb & Milly Iris Gallery

Gallery Visual Rhythms: New Paintings by Nancy Pantirer

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC showcases emerging artists and brings contemporary art to a broader audience. The Gallery was the initiative of beloved SOPAC Board Member, Milly Iris, and borne out of her love of art and young people. Milly and her husband Herb were avid collectors, devoted arts advocates, and longtime champions of SOPAC. The Iris family continues to generously support the Gallery in memory of Milly and Herb.

The Gallery is located on the second and third floors of SOPAC. It hosts 3-4 art exhibits a year. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday, Noon-6PM and two hours prior to SOPAC performances. The Gallery is closed on Sundays. 

Please sign-up for the SOPAC E-News to receive invitations to art gallery receptions and other events.

The artwork on display is for sale, unless otherwise noted. If you are interested in making a purchase, please contact Linda Beard at (973) 382-1035 or

Current Exhibition: 

reflect: NYC
by Michael Steinbrick 
Curated by Jeremy Moss

On Display: Monday, September 11 – Friday, November 24, 2017
Free Reception: Thursday, September 14 from 5-8PM 

Michael Steinbrick’s paintings reflect a spiritual experience, a moment when a higher level of consciousness takes over the logical translation of what your eye is seeing. Influenced by the realists Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, and the photorealist Richard Estes, his paintings capture the quiet solitude of reflection on many levels, amid the frenetic happenings of everyday New York City.

His images tell a story, both obvious and subversive. They capture the beauty in the randomness of the ever-changing advertisements and street traffic below, while the reflections change that narrative. These are fleeting moments when various elements come together to create a harmonious blending of shape, pattern, form, and color. 

Michael Steinbrick obtained his BFA from Montclair State University. He honed his craft abroad at the Constantijn Huygens Academie in Kampen, the Netherlands. After his schooling, he worked as a muralist and scenic designer in New York, New Jersey, and Chicago. It was during this time that
he began to develop an interest in the city-scape.

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition. 

Past Exhibitions: 

INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition 
A Juried Exhibit of Art by Essex County High School Students  

INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition is a celebration of young artists in the region. The exhibition provides an opportunity for high school arts students to have a comprehensive professional exhibition experience from submission, selection, exhibition and sale of their art. Submissions are juried by a panel of distinguished artists, photographers and curators. 

This year’s INSPIRED MINDS exhibition includes artwork submitted from the following Essex County high schools: Columbia High School, East Orange Campus High School, Lacordaire Academy, Livingston High School, Millburn High School, Newark Preparatory Academy, Nutley High School and Arts High School.

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition. 

INSPIRED MINDS is sponsored by Patricia A. Bell and the Iris Family.

Framing is generously donated by the South Orange Frame Shop.

Cover art by Leonel Soares Neto, Katie Darvin, Brina Baia and Jessica Li.

Changing Landscapes by Mary Jane Van Zeijts

Changing Landscapes
Art by Mary Jane Van Zeijts  
On display March 6 – April 30, 2017 

As a lover of nature, you will find Mary Jane Van Zeijts in search of the perfect light. Her pastel images are both luminescent and moody, a juxtaposition she catches in a seemingly effortless manner. Van Zeijts’ drawings, that contain both impressionistic and abstract elements, have a distinct feel of an oil painting. Her use of color transports you to that exact moment in time.

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition. 

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery - Inside Looking Out - Art by Dorothy Anderson Wasserman
Portion of “You Remind Me of Me” Photo Collage

Inside Looking Out
Art by Dorothy Anderson Wasserman  
On display December 15, 2016 – February 23, 2017 

Come and explore the interplay of Wasserman’s inner life and outer reality. It will take you on a fascinating journey of surrealist visual narratives, that will confront you, ask questions of you and have you wanting more. Wasserman’s photographs are cut, rearranged and then pieced together in layers of chaos and clarity. She tells a spellbinding story using images from the past, present and an imagined future. Contemporary surrealist collage in its finest form.

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition.

“Death of the GOP” by Cheryl Gross, 2016

POL!T!CO: ARTS & The Humanities 
On display September 8 – December 8, 2016

On view at The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery from September 8 – December 8, 2016, is POLITICO: ART & The Humanities, an exhibit that explores the cultural influence of politics and the humanities through the uses of various mediums of visual art. The intersection of art and politics provides an opportunity for exploration of the ideals of truth and transparency vs. censorship and political correctness as the tug-of-war between these ideological pursuits rages on. 

POLITICO is part of a collaboration that showcases four arts organizations (SOPAC-South Orange; Arts Unbound- Orange; The Baird Center’s Pierro Gallery- South Orange;  and Valley Arts Firehouse Gallery- Orange) connected by geography, and the desire to create a richer experience  for viewers. This four-venue exhibit gives artists a voice in some of the sizeable issues that are informing the 2016 November presidential election. 

Featured artists are Luis Alves, Aileen Bassis, Eric Beckerich, Kevin Bradley (Church Of Type), Kathy Cantwell, Russell Christian, Christopher Cox (Change The Thought), Lawrence Ciarallo, Jenny & Dean (A Frightening Prospect), Ron Freeman, John Friedland, Cheryl Gross, Betty McGeehan, Anne Oshman, Jay Santiago, Steve Singer, Felix Sockwell, Onnie Strother, Florence Weisz, Miguel & Alejandro Vega (The Art Of Twins Vega), and is curated by Micha Hamilton.

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition. 
Featured cover art by Cheryl Gross.

Young Artist Exhibition
On display May – August 2016

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC celebrates the work of young artists in INSPIRED MINDS: YOUNG ARTIST EXHIBITION, a juried exhibit of art by Essex County high school students. 

Click here to view a photo gallery of this exhibition. 

A special thanks to the visual arts faculty and staff of the participating Essex County high schools for their hard work and dedication to arts education. Framing was generously provided by The South Orange Frame Shop located at 6 Sloan Street. SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Featured cover art by Emily Katherine Glynn.

Art by Alberte Bernier & Ritch Gaiti 
On display February – April 2016

Spirited is a celebration of the energy, enthusiasm and determination of character, outlook and mood beyond the perceived limitations, and often opposing ideals, of nature vs. nurture. 

For Haitian-born Alberte Bernier, painting represents a profound source of freedom as well as a desire to convey human emotion and fantasy. Like the human experience which is multi-leveled, what appear to be basic colors in her art are superimposed nuances. She works in multiple mediums such as oil, acrylic, charcoal, textile, and mixed media as well as employing found objects.

Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Ritch Gaiti became visually attracted to the American west and Native American culture by the warm colors and the spiritual nature of the people and the land. He was inspired by photographer Edward S. Curtis and his colleagues who chronicled Native American Indian life in the 19th and 20th centuries. He paints of the people, the land and the spirits and recaptures a feeling of a time and a culture long-gone.


An exhibition from the private collection of Herb & Milly Iris

Herb & Milly Iris were avid collectors of art throughout their lives. They filled their homes with joyous, celebratory, thought-provoking, colorful, and bold works that confirmed the zesty spirit of their lives and gave voice to their generous and loving natures. SOPAC is proud to present this beautiful collection that is just a small sampling of the works that permeated their lives. The show also contains several pieces from young local artists that were mentored and encouraged by Mrs. Iris. 

Gallery Inspired Minds

A Juried Exhibit of Art by Columbia High School Students 

As part of the annual SOPAC Gala, A Celebration of Arts & Education, a juried exhibition of artwork, photography, and animated shorts by talented Columbia High School students will be on display in The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC.

Framing of art for this exhibition has been generously donated by the South Orange Frame Shop at 6 Sloan Street in South Orange, NJ. 

A special thanks to the faculty and staff at Columbia High School for their hard work and dedication. 

Gallery Giants o f Jazz 17

GIANTS OF JAZZ 17  | Portraits by Micha Hamilton

Giants Of Jazz, the annual music phenomenon founded in 1997 by John Lee, honors exceptional musicians and has established South Orange as a hub for world-class jazz. The 17th Annual Giants of Jazz honoring 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 luminous personalities of Giants Of Jazz propels this series of images. The portraits are presented in a bright and natural visual style inspired by photographer Richard Avedon’s series In The American West. The images are visually stark and invite the viewer into meditative moments with the players behind the music.

Gallery Precious Memories

Art by Mansa K. Mussa

Mansa K. Mussa documents and explores the trove of human and cultural treasures he encounters through the medium of photography, using his images to illustrate his collage and shadow box work. Early black and white dance imagery captures and suspends moments of performance in dramatic and rapturous displays of composition, depth, form and texture, while his collages and iPadology photos are kaleidoscopic explosions of color, layer and texture designed to appeal to and stimulate all five human senses.  These creative impulses are translated into a series of tableaus with the power to alter time, release light and energy, suspend motion and redefine space.

Gallery A Conversation

Art by Ann Vollum & Russell Christian

Examining the artworks of Ann Vollum and Russell Christian as a whole, one might sense they are looking at an alternate timeline of human evolution and bio-diversity as filtered through the prism of cultural anthropologists informed with a love for dark humor.

Ann Vollum’s BEASTLY BEASTIES could very well be the first creatures to have emerged from the primordial muck. Russell Christian’s characters could be considered a record of the bent, bloated and twisted sense of human self in its gluttonous pursuit of dominance in the natural world. Fun, frisky and easy to enjoy, these works delight with the joy and wonder of child-like abandon. You will enter a world of fantastic creatures, environments and totemic symbolism that is viewed through a humorous exposition of mixed media.

Gallery Cosmosis

The Visionary Art of Al Johnson

COSMOSIS featured the richly layered and boldly colored INTERPRETIZM paintings of internationally celebrated artist Al Johnson.

Al Johnson, an exceptional colorist, creates art that is inspirational to the spirit. When you look once you will want to look again. INTERPRETIZM is his invitation to think new thoughts about what art can be, and allows for individual understanding that transcends any restrictions and expectations in what is seen. Influenced by artists like Joseph Cornell, Paul Klee, Gustav Klimt, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Kurt Schwitters and Romare Bearden, Al Johnson’s creative universe seamlessly blends the styles and techniques of classical and contemporary art into a powerful and ecstatic vision of spiritually-charged works. Filtered through the prism of his remarkable individuality, the viewer is invited to think new thoughts about what art can be.