He hails from no less storied a place than Babylon — and we’re not talking Long Island. As a professor at Baghdad University and a member of the Iraq Freedom Art Movement, Saadi Babely escaped the regime of Saddam Hussein and its program of persecution of citizens involved in the arts, and would lose two of his siblings to Saddam’s troops. Educated in the United States, he made his way to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and eventually back to America, where the mythological figure of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar would once again take flight in his paintings.
Inspired by the deep history of his homeland while remaining contemporary in style and theme, Babely’s paintings are the subject of the latest art installation at Red Bank’s Oyster Point Hotel — Goddesses: An Art Collector Shares His Bounty. The exhibit — one of two debuting in town during the coming evenings — opens with a public-welcome reception this Thursday.
The collector in question is Bill Ierardi, a lifelong enthusiast who “ﬁnds the art he likes in galleries, online, and by personal introductions of artists by other collectors and friends” — and whose show of selected pieces from his personal collection serves as “an inspiration to increase your own collection, or even start your own ﬁne art collection,” said Gerda Liebmann, regular curator of the ongoing art exhibits at the riverside hotel.
Attendees will be treated to complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres during the reception which runs from 7 to 9 p.m. In addition to the 10 featured paintings by the Iraqi artist, buyers can also purchase a selection of high-quality framed prints of works by Dali, Erte, Linnea Pergola, Ji Cheng and many others. All buyers will receive a copy of Michael DeLucia’s scholarly exploration of Saadi Babely and his art, and the featured artworks remain on display in the hotel’s lobby area through October 29.
Meanwhile, at the downtown Red Bank headquarters of the Art Alliance of Monmouth County, the post-Labor Day interval means the start of an all-new season of monthly exhibitions in the collective’s Monmouth Street space. Opening Saturday evening is Untitled — really, that’s the title — a group show of works in various media by alliance members, with a window display by Kurt Thum. Employing such organic materials as sawdust, ferns and foliage in his nature paintings, the artist aims “to convey a sense of the preciousness of the unspoiled landscape.” The inaugural exhibit of the new season continues during regular gallery hours (Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.) through October 3.