‘Big Mike’ makes a big splash

This will be his second show at The Dollhaus II gallery

Big Mike's work will be on display at The Dollhaus II through January.
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Big Mike's work will be on display at The Dollhaus II through January.

Michael Saviello, known as “Big Mike” in the art scene, is coming home to Bayonne for his second show at The Dollhaus II art gallery.

Big Mike’s show will open at The Dollhaus II on Nov. 24 from 5 to 9 p.m. More than 30 of his paintings, primarily portraits and flowers, will be on display until Jan. 10.

The Dollhaus II is at 23 Cottage Street, open from Thursday to Sunday from 2 to 7 p.m.

The Dollhaus started in Brooklyn and ran steadily for six years until gentrification and the invasion of “commercial art.” It then reestablished itself in Bayonne as The Dollhaus II.

Home sweet Bayonne

Big Mike is returning to Bayonne following the closure of his studio at the Astor Place Hairstylists. After 75 years, the barbershop closed at the end of November due to financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big Mike was a manager at the shop for more than 40 years. He began painting during his lunch breaks three years ago at the age of 58.

In his permanent studio in the back of the barbershop, Big Mike often enjoyed a bottle of good wine and a self-prepared lunch while he painted.

With only one hour of productive painting during his lunch break, Big Mike paints fast and furiously but with incredible accuracy.

Impressionistic paintings

According to The Dollhaus II, Big Mike paints quickly and messily, but his work does not look unfinished.

His style is influenced by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Cezanne. Despite being a late starter, his paintings have reportedly caused a stir in the art world.

“Nailing a Chelsea Gallery show later in life in his painting career is kind of rare,” The Dollhaus II said in a press release. “The art world is simply captivated by his work.”

Big Mike, in search for a new studio, will return to Bayonne to The Dollhaus II. The gallery will show all Big Mike’s newest works.

Looks a lot like the notorious RBG

Big Mike’s love of boxers will also be on display at The Dollhaus II with a wide selection of his portraits of Bayonne’s native son “Bayonne Bleeder” Chuck Wepner.

The exhibit will feature many other portraits, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Donald Trump, Lil Peep, Larry Gagosian, Marilyn Monroe, and fellow artist Maidenfed.

The Dollhaus II likes to refer to Big Mike as the working man’s or woman’s artist. It has observed that his paintings immediately cause one of three reactions: “You either love it, hate it, or burst out laughing.”

But The Dollhaus II says most people love them and can’t get enough of his bigger-than-life characters and fun paintings. As Big Mike frequently says, “Bling it up.”

“It reminds us that art has really gotten out of hand these days when there’s no fun in it, and apparently the joke is among a very elite crowd having their jokes at the humiliation of the viewer and excluding the normal working man and woman,” according to The Dollhaus II.

The Dollhaus II will keep regular hours during Thanksgiving. For more information, visit www.xdollhausx.com.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.