The power palaces of Washington are shut down, but for photographer Jason Miccolo Johnson the show must go on.

For the first time in a decade, the works of the award-winning photojournalist will be on exhibit at two galleries in the District; at the Anacostia Arts Center from 6 to 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 4 and at the B Spot Art Gallery from 4 to 8 p.m. beginning Oct. 5 The exhibits run through Oct. 30.

Perhaps best recognized for his trademark visual call-and-response shooting style, where the focus is on the subject’s eyes and hands, Johnson said this exhibit is a departure from his usual work.

“Compared to my more recognized black and white documentary photographs, this exhibition represents a turning point in the evolution of my work,” he said in a statement.

The solo photography display, “Mysterioso: Rhythm. Movement. Improvisation,” is a tribute to jazz. Inspired by Thelonious Monk’s 1958 jazz album, “Misterioso,” Johnson said the exhibit will “ignite a sense of mystery and intrigue in viewers and take them on an intellectual and artistic journey through space and time.”

Using bold, rhythmic patterns of colors, evocative lighting, sculptural silhouettes and interesting shapes, the photos captures the movement, energy, tension and underlying harmony reminiscent of an improvisational jazz performance or the smoky ambience of a 1940s jazz club.

Soft muted shades called “hush tones,” created through a special technique Johnson developed using fabrics, “enchant the quiet zones of the viewer’s soul,” the artist said. His images of flowers, dancers and musicians are conveyed in mind-bending shapes and abstract colors explode out of the frames, capturing the imagination.

“You will be able to feel the images as well as see them,” said Johnson.

An acclaimed photographer, Johnson has captured the likenesses of newsmakers such as President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Princess Diana, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. His photographs are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution, the St. Louis Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Johnson is the author of the bestseller, “Soul Sanctuary: Images of the African American Worship Experience,” a coffee table size book that captures the first authentic documentation of the worship experience of Black churches. Johnson’s mentor, the legendary photographer Gordon Parks, wrote the book’s foreword.

He has also contributed work to 24 books, more than 55 magazines, and five films, including the feature film “Guess Who.”

The Howard University alumnus and District resident is the recipient of an ArtMakers Award from the national HistoryMakers organization.

He formerly worked for USA Today and ABC News.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO