Artist showcases his ‘love of Valley Stream’


Throughout the month of December, Michael Stanko’s paintings of Valley Stream winter scenes were for sale as holiday greeting cards at Sip This for $3. As of press time, Stanko did not have a total amount of money he raised, but said that the money would help him buy more art supplies and would either be donated to the Central High School graduating class or help fund class reunions.

“I honestly made these more for my own love of Valley Stream and not for profit,” Stanko, 62, said.

The eight paintings for sale included scenes of Central High School, where he went to school in the 1970s; the Valley Stream Village Green covered in snow and Hendrickson Park. His big seller, he said, was a painting of Ancona Pizzeria.

“Whenever I post something about Ancona, I get a lot of people posting ‘Oh I remember Ancona,’” he said.

The Ancona owners told Stanko that they also liked the painting, and would display it at their restaurant. “The Ancona people were happy,” Stanko said. The Ancona owners refused to speak to the Herald.

The paintings were originally for sale for $3.50, but by the end of the month Stanko reduced the price to $3. He said that this was his first time selling his paintings and did not advertise. Still, according to Sip This Owner Stephanie Pontillo, the coffee shop sold several dozen of the prints, many in bundles of more than one painting per customer.

“The last week or two [of December], people were coming in and we sold quite a few of them,” Pontillo said.

She also said that she decided to let Stanko sell his paintings because he was a regular customer who previously displayed his art at the coffee.

“We love that he’s from Valley Stream and they’re Valley Stream scenes,” Pontillo said about the paintings. “It’s great to see someone go from a customer to a friend,” she added.

Stanko also gave some of the cards to the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration museum, at 143 Hendrickson Ave., to sell to fundraise for the Valley Stream Historical Society. Instead, however, John Urgo, a trustee of the historical society, used the cards to decorate the museum for Christmas.

Urgo, 64, has been decorating Christmas trees since he was 5-years-old. So, when he saw the Stanko’s Valley Stream cards, he thought it would be a good decoration for the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration’s Christmas tree. “It just kind of relates to the place,” he said.

Urgo used flowers and wire clips to hang the cards, and tucked several cards in the flowers of the poinsettia. “Every couple of leaves, he put up a card,” said Valerie Esposito, a historical society trustee.

He also sculpted a Santa Claus and put one of the cards in his hand, and said that next year he would like to decorate a large tree with pictures of all of the former historical society members who have died.

Stanko’s paintings will be on display on April 7 at DEMOUZY Contemporary in Rockville Centre.