The first thing one notices about a Mike Stanko painting is that it’s a Mike Stanko painting. Whether he’s depicted the Big Duck in Flanders deep in snow (or bathed in sunlight), the Montauk Lighthouse, an ocean scene or, like this week’s cover, a simple fish, one can always pick a Stanko piece out from the crowd.
His bold, eye-catching colors and use of familiar images are demonstrative of Stanko’s signature style—sometimes referred to as New American.
“It seems that since many of my images are very ‘Americana,’ very Long Island, and are very familiar for anyone who grew up here on the island,” Stanko says, “many people can relate to it. The ‘New’ comes into it because of my use of bright vibrant Pop colors outlined in black.”
What have you been up to since your work was last featured on Dan’s Papers in December?
I had a successful show in Nassau County this past spring, which was followed by a number of commissions. [My wife] Karen and I traveled around Ireland, the land of beauty and friendliness, and returned totally inspired. I’m presently working on the “Stanko 2019” calendar while preparing for my end-of-year exhibition this December at The Gallery inside Sip This [on Rockaway Avenue] in Valley Stream. And I’m seeking new representation, perhaps out on the East End.
Your last two covers were both winter scenes. Do you prefer painting, or creating paintings of one season more than the others?
I’m a man for all seasons! That’s one reason I will never leave the Northeast. I consider myself lucky—every season inspires me. The colors of the spring and autumn, the brightness of the summer sun and the cool stillness of the winter: it’s all right here.
What do you think the significance of painting is for contemporary society?
Contemporary painting can often reflect the day’s climate. And now more than ever I, personally, feel a responsibility to bring some joy into people’s lives.
Where’s the most unusual place your work has appeared?
The lobby of the Empire State Building. Having my artwork exhibited in the lobby of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, attracting thousands of people a day, was remarkable. I’ve shown there twice.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
The first person that comes to mind is Claude Monet. I would give anything to be able to talk with him about anything, just to sit with him in his beautiful yellow and blue kitchen and then head out for a walk in those gardens!
Where can our readers see more of your work?
Currently I have a painting at The Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton in the Creatures, Large and Small show, curated by Elaine Benson Gallery’s Kimberly Goff. My work can always been seen on Instagram (@stankoart) and at stankoart.com.