Born in Canoga Park, California, Michael now calls Seattle home. He attended Southern Utah University, where he studied both theater and fine art. “I began my university education by studying to become an actor,” he says. “However, exposure to the visual arts diverted my interest into new creative possibilities. The years I spent developing back-stories for my characters as an actor, or dressing sets to enhance the story as a director, had an influence on the type of artist I would become. I discovered early on that I was interested in representational and figurative art.”

Much to his delight, he discovered the MFA program at the New York Academy of Art, a program dedicated to exploring contemporary figurative ideas in art, with respect to its history and past techniques. Michael’s mentors and instructors at the Academy included many well-known figurative/representational painters, such as Alfred Leslie, Eric Fichel, Vincent Desiderio, and Martha Erlebacher.

After earning his MFA, he found it financially challenging to pay back his student loans while also hiring models necessary for his figurative work. His solution was to make the city his studio. “The sidewalks became my studio and the city my new model,” he writes.  “I consider every landscape a portrait, and just like a quality portrait, I want to capture a likeness and display the personality of my subject.”

His exhibition history includes many solo and group exhibitions at two of the top galleries in the region, first at Martin-Zambito Gallery, and then beginning in 2007, at Woodside-Braseth Gallery, both in Seattle. Both galleries not only work to develop and mentor new artists, but are also caretakers and researchers of Northwest masters.

While pursuing his passion for his painting, Michael has always been a teaching-artist, having been an instructor of Art & Design at Pacific Lutheran University and Eastern Illinois University. He also taught briefly at Cornish College of Arts, and landscape and figurative painting at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. Michael is now focusing on his painting, while also developing new coursework.

Artwork by Michael Stasinos

Gage Academy of Art acknowledges the Coast Salish Peoples as the original inhabitants of this area and connecting waterways. We understand the land that Gage occupies is unceded territory and that today many Indigenous peoples live here and without their stewardship, we would not have access to this space. We honor the Coast Salish Peoples’ sovereignty, rights to self-determination, culture and ways of life. Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples have called this territory their sacred land. We commit to learning, educating others and repairing the legacy of historically harmful relationships between non-Native and Native peoples in King County. In doing so, we will be honest, and recognize the experiences of Native peoples to include genocide, forced relocation, forced assimilation, and land theft. We also acknowledge Native peoples are survivors, present in today’s world, thriving. We encourage everyone here today to ask themselves: what can I do to support Indigenous communities?

In an effort to be transparent, Gage is contemplating this call to action and re-working how to best support Indigenous communities.

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