INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition

On Display: May 16 – August 18
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 16 at 65PM

The South Orange Performing Arts Center presents the best and brightest in various series of visual art exhibitions in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC.  As a regional arts center, we are dedicated to nurturing and enriching the next generation with unique arts programs.  To that end, INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition is a celebration of young artists.

Every high school in Essex County is invited to participate.  The Young Artists Exhibition showcases visual arts by recognizing and fostering the artistic talents of high school students while their families, friends, and teachers celebrate and encourage their creative work.

Selected students enjoy a fully professional experience from juried selection, installation, an Opening Reception, exhibition, and in some cases, sale of their artwork.  Through this effort, we hope to represent the diversity of high school art students in Essex County.

Providing opportunities for emerging artists was the passion of the Gallery’s namesake, Milly Iris. Coupling those opportunities with education is at the core of SOPAC’s mission.  It is vitally important that we recognize arts education as valuable and that we nourish young artists and validate their achievements. We are delighted to offer our participating artists the chance to present their work in a professional exhibition.

To preview the exhibition, CLICK HERE


SOPAC’s Arts Education programs are supported in part by New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Orange Orphan Society, Citizens Charitable Foundation, George A. Ohl, Jr. Charitable Trust, Hearst Foundations, Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation, and PSEG Foundation. 

Sponsored by the Iris Family Foundation.

Framing generously donated by the South Orange Frame Shop.

If you are interested in making a purchase, please contact Linda Beard at (973) 382-1035 or


Check out our tentative schedule of upcoming exhibitions in The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery, located on the second and third floors of SOPAC.

FALL 2023



Opening Reception: September 14 at 5PM

FULL CIRCLE, by Ben Niles, is a mesmerizing exhibition that captures the convergence of graphic design and painting. Showcasing a remarkable fusion of acrylic, ink, and graphite, skillfully intertwined with the techinique of screen printing, this is celebration of creativity and the interconnectedness of diverse art forms.  FULL CIRCLE serves as a poignant tribute to Niles’ family’s artistic legacy, as well as his own personal artistic journey. This spellbinding merger of graphic design and painting represents the culmination of his education and experiences, bringing together the skills and inspirations he acquired throughout his career. This exhibition is a testament to the power of artistic exploration and the profound impact it can have on both the artist and the viewer.



ARTFUL LIVING: The Painters of Maker + Muse


Opening Reception: November 30 at 6PM

ARTFUL LIVING: The Painters of Maker + Muse seamlessly blends the world of visual art with the realms of home and everyday living.  this unique showcase is expertly curated by Brian Dittmar, an award-winning interior designer and the visionary behind Maker + Muse, a lifestyle boutique in Maplewood. Dittmar’s discerning eye for aesthetics and passion for art have resulted in an unparalleled fusion of creativity and functionality.

Visitors can explore Lisa Pressman‘s latest series, which incorporates a variety of mediums and grounds and is then dug into with razor blades and clay tools to create an evocative form and pattern. They can marvel at Aida Jones‘ layered abstract paintings that mix bold, bright, modern colors with smooth and rough textured shapes. Or find intrigue in the energetic works by Aimee Mower-Lally, featuring geometric shapes and dynamic colors. Dorothy Ganek‘s complex compositions of recognizable objects with sweeping abstract movement are also on display, as well as Betsy Meyer-Donadio‘s mixed-media collages, which feature multiple layers of vintage paper, fabric, acrylic paint, and plaster.



Contemporary African Spirituality: Connections to New Jersey


Opening Reception: February 8 at 6PM

Contemporary African Spirituality explores cultural practices that have been mixed, juxtaposed, and collided with ideas, themes, materials, and techniques, both African and Modern, by African and African diaspora artists in New Jersey and surrounding areas. Curated by Atim Annette Oton, this exhibition examines the transformation of spirituality from the lens of visual artists.

The exhibit is co-sponsored by The Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University.


Columbia High School 2024 AP Art Showcase

APRIL 11 – MAY 4

Opening Reception: April 11 at 6:30PM

Join us for the Columbia High School AP Art Showcase’s Opening Reception at the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery in SOPAC. The exhibit is curated by Alexandra Cappucci, the students’ devoted teacher who spearheaded the shift to a professional exhibition experience. The program flourished under Cappucci’s leadership, resulting in incredible displays of talent and dedication.

SOPAC’s Arts Education programs are supported in part by New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Orange Orphan Society, Citizens Charitable Foundation, George A. Ohl, Jr. Charitable Trust, Hearst Foundations, Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation, and PSEG Foundation. 

Special thanks to Rick Hauser, owner of The Framing Mill in Maplewood, NJ for generously donating materials for the display of student work. 


INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition

MAY 16 – AUGUST 18

Opening Reception: May 16 at 5PM

Join us for the opening reception of this year’s INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition, the latest exhibition in The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery. This is a juried exhibit of art by Essex County high school students.

Each year, thousands of submissions are juried by a panel of distinguished artists, photographers, museum curators, and arts advocates. The result is an exciting and eclectic body of work from the perspective of young emerging artists.