Piano_DivePIANO DIVE and other paintings by George Severini are the subject of both a book signing and a gallery exhibit that opens Friday evening at McKay Imaging. (Click to enlarge)

Taken together, the artworks comprise a collection that’s as much smile-inducing Joke Book as serious coffeetable conversation piece. A series of colorful Photoshop-crafted illustrations – executed with jazzy mid-century verve, each a playful riff on a musically-minded turn of phrase – the exhibit “Piano Dive” assembles a thematically linked cycle of throughly-modern images by one of the Red Bank area’s greatest conservators of visual history, George Severini.

NOSE FOR NOTES is among the George Severini pieces on display at McKay Imaging Gallery between July 17 and 23.

This Friday evening, McKay Imaging, on the second floor at 12 Monmouth Street, hosts a reception for the exhibit, the latest in a series of occasional departures from the photography-centric mission of curators Bob and Elisabeth McKay. Scheduled for the hours between 7 and 10 pm, the event combines the meet-the-artist format with an extra dimension of interaction.

Piano Dive is also the title of an independently published volume of Severini images that are featured as prints on paper, canvas and wood – along with a few original acrylic paintings – in the exhibit. The co-curator (with wife Kathy Dorn Severini) of the Dorns Classic Images photo-history archive will be signing copies of the book, which will be available for purchase at the event.

The art opening/ book signing represents another career milestone for the Fair Haven resident and Red Bank Catholic grad, whose friendship with the late James Avati saw the legendary paperback-cover illustrator mentoring the young painter, who at the time worked at the old borough-based Colorest art supplies store.

The artist is also a veteran musician and composer – he and his wife have both performed as part of Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express wall of sound – as well as a corporate communications producer-director, an author of screenplays and young-adult novels, and a regular writer of humorous columns for The Two River Times.

“We are so happy to feature the work of such a beloved figure in our community,” the McKays said in a press statement for the exhibition. “Anyone who knows George will agree that this body of work, so fun and colorful, is a reflection of the man himself.”

“If you don’t know George… what are you waiting for?”

Those unable to make the Friday night opening reception can still have an in-person look at “Piano Dive” during special gallery hours that extend from Saturday, July 18 (1 to 4 pm) to July 21, 22 and 23 (1 to 7 pm). Appointments for viewing opportunities can be arranged by calling (732) 842-2272 or emailing