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 now through April 30, 2016, is SPIRITED, an exhibit featuring paintings by artists Alberte Bernier and Ritch Gaiti, and curated by Micha Hamilton. The artwork on exhibit is for sale with partial proceeds supporting SOPAC.

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.

Haitian born Alberte Bernier is a visual artist who lives and works in New York City.  For Alberte 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.

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Although born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ritch Gaiti became visually attracted to the American west and the Native American culture by the warm colors and the spiritual nature of the people and the land. Inspired by the works of the legendary photographer Edward S. Curtis and his colleagues who chronicled Native American Indian life in the 19th and 20th centuries, he became sympathetic to the Native American history and their fallen journey. He paints of the people, the land and the spirits and tries to recapture a feeling of a time and culture long-gone.

About Alberte Bernier (Artist)

Alberte holds a BA from City College and an MA from New York University.  She studied painting at the Art Students League and also with gifted art teacher Edla Cusick. She is an artist in residence at Chashama. She has exhibited at the New York State Museum (Albany), Ceres gallery (NYC), Pleiades gallery (NYC), hob’art gallery (NJ), and The Drawing Room (NJ).

Alberte has traveled to numerous countries for cultural research including Canada, China, France, India, Mexico, Morocco, Vietnam and Thailand. She was featured in singer-composer Tecla Esposito’s artful fantasy music video entitled “Fake Tears”.

For more information about Alberte and her art, visit www.albertebernier.com

About Ritch Gaiti (Artist)

Ritch is an artist who has been painting for over twenty years and only recently began to exhibit publicly. He has been awarded the Plainsman, the People's Choice Award at the American Plains Artists show in 2009. He has exhibited in most states in galleries and museums including: 

International Museum of the Horse, International Museum of Art, El Paso, The Gilcrease Museum, The American Quarter Horse Association Museum, The Great Plains Art Museum, The Pearce Museum, The Customs House Museum, The Trenton City Museum, and The Ellen Noel Museum.

Known for his evocative expression and emotion of the subject as well as his textured application of paint, Ritch has rapidly built a strong following with collectors and galleries throughout the world. His work has appeared in many magazines including Gallery and Studio, Southwest Art, The Best Artists of America, and Art of the West. Recently his work was featured in Horses in Art magazine; his painting, Night Moves, is on the cover. 

He has studied with Micheal Madigan and developed his own style of expression. He won the Judges Award of Merit in the Trail of Painted Ponies National Art Competition 2006, and is a member of the Oil Painters of America and American Plains Artists. He has appeared many times on national television and radio and has been featured in several art magazines.

For more information about Ritch and his art, visit www.gaiti.com

About Micha Hamilton (Curator)

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Micha Hamilton is a published photographer, filmmaker, writer and graphic designer. Since 2009, Mr. Hamilton has been curating events and exhibitions in the greater New York/New Jersey 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 visual imagery for commercial, non-commercial and private needs. For more information, visit www.michahamiltonphotography.com.

About the Herb & Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC

The Herb & Milly Iris Gallery brings contemporary art to the community, providing artists opportunities to reach new audiences. The Gallery is designed for moviegoers, theater enthusiasts, art lovers, and all citizens of South Orange alike to have an opportunity to further enrich their cultural lives. The Gallery is the impetus of former SOPAC Board Member Milly Iris who had an extensive art collection, was an art teacher, and the former owner/director of South Orange’s Whichcraft Gallery. Along with her husband, Herb, Milly was a longtime supporter of SOPAC.

About SOPAC

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 multidisciplinary 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 also a 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 www.SOPACnow.org.