Art Watch: Michael Stancato

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A Quixotic approach to art

By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times

UTColLogoGalerMichael Stancato was born in West Chester and graduated from the Tyler School of Art. He did graphics arts for local television station in Philadelphia and then moved to Los Angeles to continue doing graphic art for television and film. Fortunately for us, Michael moved back to West Chester and has been active in the local art scene ever since. Michael is most noted for his quixotic surrealist vignettes that put together an ensemble cast of unlikely creatures in an otherworldly environment.

As in the case of “Triune Brain,” Michael is working through pictorially expressing an intellectual quandary. There is Mr. Spock, of the original Star Trek, a cartoonish dog and lizard, circling a globe that is ringed in signs that express particular queries. A lot of care and attention is paid to the colorization and painting of every item. In “The Reformation,” we see what certainly appears to be downtown West Chester, but the background is a raging volcano, and the people on the streets are dressed up for Halloween and also for church. What is he getting at? I certainly do not know, but the overall feeling is quirky and enjoyable; like the artist himself.

The Triune Brain Final web

Triune Brain

Any artist who goes against the mainstream in order to realize their vision has to have a pretty strong spine, especially in such an area as the Brandywine Valley that has such an enormous history in traditional landscapes, realism, and fine arts.

The Reformation Final web

The Reformation

Along with Michael’s more surrealist visions, he also paints plein air landscapes, and they are lovely. His plein air work is tenderly rendered landscapes in the most traditional method. Michael composes the images and paints with great skill, but it feels like his heart is really not into it as much as his other work.

Probably the finest of Michael pieces is “Categorical Imperative” which combines the beautiful Chester County landscape with a few choice images that are just a bit cartoonish, and just a bit off kilter. He imagines that perfect Chester County pastoral scene, single lane bridge, farmhouse, red barn, hay bales, and even a little stream meandering through the field; and then he whips up a barbed wire or thorny vine that threatens the pretty scene as it twists and turns from the left corner. It is a beautifully rendered image, and then he adds that quintessential Michael Stancato element of the science fiction and the normal world becomes otherworldly.

michael stancato

Categorical Imperative

To see more of Michael’s work and meet the artist, please stop by Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square this coming Thursday from 5-9pm. Proceeds from art sales benefit the Chester County Art Association’s New Building fund.

Local Art Watch highights one local artist every week. Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Asociated Press in Rome.  She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square and she is President of the Education Foundation and co-Chairs the CCAA’s New Building Campaign.

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One Comment

  1. Annie Strack says:

    Great article! I love his work — so whimsical!

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