East Village hair salon manager unveils secret painting passion

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EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan — When was the last time you went to an art gallery opening or a movie screening at a hair salon?

That’s what happened with the talented Mike Saviello, who has been the manager of Astor Place Hairstylists for 40 years and a lunchtime painter for just a little more than one year.

“I always wanted to be a painter my whole life, I just didn’t have the time,” the 57-year-old husband, father and grandfather, told PIX11 News.

To say Big Mike is a New York character is putting it mildly.

Nick Heller, a 29-year-old filmmaker who’s been getting his hair cut at Astor Place for 20 years, stumbled upon Saviello painting on his lunch hour, as Nick was headed to the restroom.

“The paintings are very Van Goghesque,” Heller told PIX11.

So Nick made a documentary “Big Mike Takes Lunch” that premiered at, where else, Astor Place Hair Stylists with lots of regular customers celebrating Big Mike, including Mayor de Blasio who started getting his hair cut here at age 17 while a student at NYU.

“The paintings are beautiful and we are proud of this New Yorker,” the mayor said at a packed screening party at Astor Place.

Big Mike’s paintings range from celebrities like Biggie and Rihanna.

But it all started with painting his beloved wife Harriett, who was battling breast cancer at the time.

“I am really proud of him and I am glad he’s painting because he is really talented,” a beaming Harriett Saviello told PIX11.

“He didn’t do it for a long time but it has helped him deal with things,” she added.

Saviello’s painting are selling for $500 to $2,000 and three art galleries are vying to represent Big Mike, but he says he’s not going to let any of this go to his head.

He’ll be back at his day job come Monday morning.

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