If the art style on this week’s cover looks familiar, it’s because we couldn’t wait to get the revered Mike Stanko back on the front of Dan’s Papers. We chatted with him about this week’s cover art, his first-ever cover submission, cool Christmas presents, his 2022 calendar and more!
In case it isn’t obvious, Dan LOVES your art. What does this week’s cover art, “Green Acres Santa,” bring your total number of Dan’s Papers covers to?
Well, that is certainly nice to read, and to get back at ’cha, I will say that I LOVE being on Dan’s Papers! This issue brings my total to 15 covers.
When did you first begin submitting art for Dan’s Papers cover consideration, and what was your first piece to make it onto the cover?
The first time I was on the cover was in 2013, probably a while after my first submissions. My first cover was of a favorite of mine, the Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue, on the North Fork. I just had to paint it with its iconic neon sign — and was very happy that it was selected.
Tell us about the inspiration and creation process of “Green Acres Santa.”
I grew up in Nassau County in the Village of Valley Stream. Outside the Green Acres Mall on Sunrise Highway, during every Christmas season, the mall would put up this 30-foot Santa to greet the shoppers every year. As a kid, I remember the annual excitement of seeing Santa and knowing Christmas was around the corner.
What is the coolest or most unexpected present Santa ever brought you?
Santa brought the coolest Christmas presents the year I woke up and saw, next to our tree, a brand new, sky blue Stingray bike with a banana seat — the bicycle I would dream about every time I passed the Valley Stream Bicycle shop up the block from my home. I guess I made it quite obvious to my parents that THAT was the gift I wanted most. BUT, as if the Stingray wasn’t enough, the other thrill was when I opened another present under the tree and found a pair of BEATLE boots which put me over the moon. That definitely made me feel like the coolest kid in grammar school!
Excluding traditional exhibitions, where are some of the most unique places your art has appeared?
Perhaps the most unique place I’ve shown was in the lobby of the Empire State Building. With thousands of people passing daily, the exposure was tremendous. Having a few of my “Sun” paintings on the CBS Sunday Morning show a number of times is pretty unique, too. But I have to say, having many paintings hanging at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and at The Ronald McDonald House might be the most rewarding.
Is there one painting you’ve done throughout your career that you consider your favorite, or perhaps your most meaningful or memorable?
Offhand, one of my most meaningful paintings has to be the painting which appeared on the cover of Dan’s 2020 Labor Day issue honoring the frontline heroes of the pandemic.
How did you narrow down your wide range of works to the 12 or so featured in the 2022 Mike Stanko calendar, and for how many years have you offered calendars?
Producing calendars for sale since 2013, I only put on paintings that I’ve made during that particular year. I try to coordinate a particular painting to the appropriate season, though I must add that my wife always gets to pick her favorite for her birthday month of August!
Would you like to share any closing thoughts?
First, I’d like to mention that my work can currently be seen and purchased at the Holiday Fair POP-UP shop at the Taste the East End Boutique, 489 East Main Street in Riverhead, 10 a.m.–8 p.m through December 24. I also have two pieces in the Celebrate the Season exhibition at the Reboli Gallery in Stony Brook. And please visit stankoart.com and @stankoart on Instagram and Facebook. To order a Stanko 2022 calendar, call LMN Printing of New York Inc. at 516-285-8526.
Thank you, Dan’s, for enjoying my work and for the opportunity to be featured in your excellent weekly. And, finally, I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Christmastime and a healthy 2022!