Treasured Dan’s Papers cover artist Mike Stanko has been featured on various covers celebrating the many holidays we hold dear—from a symphony of hearts for Valentine’s Day to a frontline of essential workers for Labor Day. In honor of Memorial Day 2021 and his first cover for this revered holiday, Stanko discusses the piece’s intriguing inspiration and surreal concept, as well as the holiday surrounding it.
What is the name of this wonderful piece, and what’s the inspiration behind it?
The name of this painting is “The Beach March.” The inspiration of this piece actually arose from hearing the title of Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach.” I had planned to do a patriotic painting and then just pictured a group of marchers parading on a beach—VOILA!!
Did the conception and creation process of this piece differ at all from your usual process?
Not really. I think of ideas for paintings anytime throughout the day. I write them down, keeping the list for reference. When this idea came up, I had just finished a painting, so I jumped right into it when the idea was new. And to be honest, I chuckled to myself as I was drawing it, thinking the concept was a little surreal—zany, like something out of Monty Python.
What makes this piece such an ideal fit for a Dan’s Papers Memorial Day cover?
Parade marchers with flags AND a beach—those elements are both key to a typical Memorial Day on Long Island.
What are some East End spots that have provided lasting Memorial Day weekend memories, and do these locales appear in your work?
Anyone who is familiar with my work knows I am obsessed with our island, especially the East End. My wife, Karen, and I have spent many, many years coming out to Montauk to our favorite haunts, like The Clam Bar and Lenhart’s on Old Montauk Highway, many of which have appeared in my paintings.
How do you intend to spend this Memorial Day weekend?
This year we’re staying in our own backyard with a few dear and vaccinated friends, good food and wine, and we will breathe a grateful sigh of relief that we’ve made it through this difficult time.
Where can your work be seen in the coming weeks, both online and up close?
Up close I’ll have a painting on exhibit in St. James at the Mills Pond Gallery’s Member Artist Showcase, June 19–July 18, and down the road in Stony Brook, I have a couple of small paintings at the Reboli Center through May 31. Online, my work can be seen at stankoart.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I’d just like to thank everyone at Dan’s for all the support they’ve given me over the years, and, of course, I’d like to wish everyone out there a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!