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Saturday, November 1, 2014
Neighbors
Artist shares his love of Valley Stream
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
Mike Stanko, a lifelong resident of Valley Stream, has his artwork on his display at Sip This for the next month which includes many scenes of the community such as Central High School.

Mike Stanko has been called by others the Norman Rockwell of Valley Stream. He’s not sure he would go that far, but Stanko does share the same passion for art as the early 20th century painter.

Stanko, a lifelong Valley Stream resident, has more than two dozen of his paintings on display at local coffeehouse Sip This. The pieces, many of which are recognizable Valley Stream scenes, will be on display for the next month.

“I paint all the time,” said Stanko, a 1973 graduate of Central High School, who lives down the block from where he grew up. “I’m very influenced by my surroundings. I find pleasure in painting a Cheerios box, as simple as that.”

Long ago, Stanko fell in love with his hometown. He said Valley Stream has many beautiful scenes and he loves to paint those. His work on display at Sip This includes paintings of Central High School, the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration, the Village Green, Fire Department headquarters, the train station and various scenes from Hendrickson Park and the state parks.

There are also other paintings that might not look like Valley Stream — such as hamburgers cooking on a barbecue or a friend’s dog — but are, in fact, based on everyday life in the community and the people who live there.

Many of the paintings belong to Stanko and will be one sale. Others he has given away over the years and borrowed back for the show, such as a painting of Village Hall that Mayor Ed Fare commissioned him to make. Stanko has shown his work over the years at the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library and the Pagan-Fletcher House, but says this is his first “real show” in the community. He is also excited to have it as Sip This, located in the same Rockaway Avenue storefront as some popular businesses of the past — Whitey’s Candy Store, Frogs and, most recently, Slipped Disc Records.

Sip This owner David Sabatino said Stanko approached him about a year ago about doing the show. He liked the idea, and now enjoys seeing the paintings in his shop every time he comes to work. “I love it,” Sabatino said. “Besides looking great in the store, it means a lot to me and our customers, to see these things influenced by Valley Stream.”

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