This week’s cover artist, Mike Stanko, has been here before. The lifelong Long Islander has supplied Dan’s Papers with several covers, and has also painted the Island from Valley Stream to Montauk and Greenport in his bold-colored, eye-catching style. Visitors to his website will recognize Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue, the Springs General Store, the Clam Bar at Napeague and, or course, The Big Duck in Flanders.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
How cool is The Big Duck and how iconic is it to Long Island? I’ve made paintings of the Big Duck before, but this is the first with a holiday theme.
Do you have a specific memory of, or association with, the Big Duck you’d like to share?
I loved stopping at the Duck as a child, and even now as an adult. In fact, my friend, singer songwriter Caroline Doctorow, wrote the “Big Duck Ramble”…every time I hear her perform the song, it makes me smile!
You painted a lot of East End scenes. Where do you find the most inspiration on the East End?
The beaches…the lighthouse…the open fields…the vineyards… so much beautiful scenery—and of course, The Modern Snack Bar—and the Clam Bar—places and subjects that are close to my heart and make me happy.
What’s your favorite thing about winter on the East End?
Even in winter the beaches are gorgeous, and I love the serenity of the winter on the East End. It’s a very different place in each season and I love each one…the calmer colors of winter and the more vibrant palettes of the other seasons.
What are you happiest to leave behind in 2017? And what are you looking forward to in 2018?
Let’s just say I’m looking forward a time when every one of us feels peaceful and hopeful again.
For our readers drawn to your style, who are some of the other artists you recommend they look into?
Well, the artists who I’m drawn to—and who may have influenced me—include Wayne Thiebaud, Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell.
December 8 is the 37th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. We know you’re a huge Beatles fan. How did The Beatles influence your path to becoming an artist?
The Beatles played a large part in influencing all aspects of my life. They even brought my wife and me together. Karen, a major fan herself, and I were united in high school because of our love of them. Growing up with their music, and loving the psychedelic, vibrant imagery made a major impact on me and my work. They opened up my mind to many things that went on to influence my style.
Needless to say, December 8 will forever be a day of sadness. A chance run-in with John in Central Park during his deportation battle led to me heading The National Committee to Save Lennon, thus being in John’s company a number of times.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Keep on painting, creating, and don’t stop. Follow you heart and your dreams!
Do you have any upcoming shows?
April 2018 at The Demouzy Contemporary in Rockville Centre.
Visit stankoart.com for more details about Stanko’s upcoming show and to see more of his artwork.