Do you like the Golden Girls, Joan Rivers, Absolutely Fabulous, Lucille Ball, Elvira, Princess Leah and Madonna? What about glitter and sparkle?
If so, you might like the stencil cut out and spray painted images created by Savannah artist Michael Mahaffey. He’s an illustrator with a strong interest in strong women.
“I love the idea of a woman who is direct and knows what she wants and is going to go out there and get it,” he says. “I’ve always been obsessed with icons.”
Gallery Espresso will feature Mahaffey’s artwork through the month of February. And while you can view it all month long, there’s a show for it on February 12th from 6-9pm.
The exhibit is called “I Really Wanna Lose 3 Pounds.” And a lot of it skewers images of pop icons by putting them in situations or alongside text that roasts with wit and humor.
His work also has strong overtones of LGBT culture, although it certainly speaks to anyone who loves taking the conventional and making it slightly subversive.
“A lot of what I do is taken from my own life that I think is really funny or interesting,” he says. “That’s true of most of the artwork that I do but specifically the gay ones.”
I completely missed the message behind one image. It’s an image of Bette Davis with an actual electric light in the eyes. I know. How could I miss “She’s got Bette Davis eyes?”
You can find other images by Mahaffey on his Etsy website (Link Here) if you can’t make it to the coffeehouse and gallery space on Chippewa Square.
As for the man himself, Mahaffey came to Savannah from his native Washington, D.C. to study at SCAD. He spent ten years away in places like San Diego, Phoenix and Atlanta.
He came back to find a city very much changed. And some of those ideas come out in his art as well, like an image of the Talmadge Bridge soaked in some kind of sad mist.
“I never feel uninspired,” he says. “And I never feel at a loss as to what to work on. I have sketch books full of stuff. I have scraps of paper with words.”
Over those ten years, his art changed, as well. He used to paint much cleaner lines. And he spent an enormous amount of time on each piece. Very expensive, not his market.
It was in Arizona where he discovered and perfected a stencil and spray paint technique that has become his hallmark. And now he’s attaching things like crystals and string.
“In the last six months or so I’ve been working with sewing things onto the canvass to give them a little bit more glitter or sparkle,” he says.
But I would be remiss in focusing too much on his technique. His real mastery, in my opinion, is the contemporary aesthetic, the social commentary, the absurdness of it all.
He seems to capture what I can’t. And that’s the quick hit. You easily could imagine these images shared over and over on social media. He seems to have found a niche.
And thankfully, he seems rather prolific, as you have to be in this style of art, which is taking over all facets of life. And it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop any time soon.
“It’s like breathing and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world,” he says of his art. “I can do it when I’m tired, when I’m ecstatic, when I’m incredibly sad.”
In other words, art is life. Best wishes in that art-life to Savannah’s one and only “Mr. Mahaffey,” not to be confused with an artist with a similar name in Tennessee.