Jason Miccolo Johnson. “Giant Steps,” from the Mysterioso exhibit at Anacostia Arts Center. (Jason Miccolo Johnson)
The Gate

Photojournalist Jason Miccolo Johnson used to love hearing the Wallace Roney jazz classic “Misterioso” playing at his favorite Southeast Washington frame shop. He wanted to find a way to tie those jazz techniques into his photographs. The resulting show, “Mysterioso: Rhythm.Movement.Improvisation,” inspired by the late 1950sThelonius Monk album “Misterioso” will be shown in two Southeast galleries through the end of October. Like the music, the work explores harmony and tension, Johnson says, and it uses sculptural representations and rhythmic patterns of color.

2 Galleries that “Mysterioso: Rhythm.Movement.Improvisation” will be shown in during this month: the Anacostia Arts Center and the B Spot.
14 Months of shooting time needed to capture the images for the exhibition. All of the flowers were grown by Johnson in his front yard, which last year won first place on his street in his neighborhood’s “Best Yard” competition.
17 Frames to get the “Mystic Dance” photograph right. Though it looks like an abstract painting with an explosion of colors, the image is captured with the subject moving, and Johnson swinging the camera as if it were a trombone while zooming the lens.
38 Years that Johnson has been a professional photographer. He has a trademark visual call-and-response shooting style where the focus is on the subject’s eyes and hands. Compared with his black-and-white documentary photos, Johnson says, “this exhibition represents a turning point in the evolution of my work.”
55 Years since the live recording of Thelonius Monk’s album at the Five Spot Cafe in New York. Johnson’s use of color and bold silhouettes and his eye for movement sought to evoke the ambiance of a smoky 1940s jazz club.
704 Books on photography in Johnson’s personal collection that he routinely scans for inspiration and new insights. “Every photographer, no matter how long you’ve been shooting, can gain fresh perspectives by studying the work of others and through observing nature,” Johnson says.

— Lonnae O’Neal Parker