The Arts

The Arts


Pagan-Fletcher Restoration by Mike Stanko

This page is dedicated to all art forms relating to Valley Stream. 
Please send us your literary pieces, artwork, photography, music, and videos! 

Amy Kassak Bentley grew up in the Mill Brook (Green Acres) community of South Valley Stream where she attended Forest Road and South High. An avid genealogist for the past 24 years, she has researched her family's Eastern European roots and was the project coordinator for the chapter translation of her family's shtetl in Soly, Belarus, published by Yad Vashem. After researching her ancestry, she shifted her energies to the history of Valley Stream. An active member of the Valley Stream Historical Society, she wears many hats: board trustee, webmaster, and researcher. Bentley, an amateur photographer, is a senior executive assistant at Photronics, Inc., a publicly-traded international semiconductor manufacturing company. She resides in Kent, Connecticut with her husband and son.  

Please click on the video link below to view her pictorial essay on the recently remediated wetlands of South Valley Stream.

SOUTH VALLEY STREAM -- where wetlands reign supreme

Joe Bria, born in Brooklyn and raised in Valley Stream, attended Clearstream Avenue School, Memorial Junior High School and graduated from Central High School in 1970.  After working for the phone company for 33 years, Joe moved to Arizona where he opened a successful custom woodworking business that he eventually sold in 2008.  Happily retired, and "living the dream," Joe was inspired to create a tribute to Valley Stream after realizing just how great it was to grow up in such a wonderful town.  Joe dedicates his video to all those who lost their lives in 9/11.

Please click on the link below to watch Joe's video montage of memories.

Steve Buscemi, was born in Brooklyn and raised in Valley Stream. He attended  Shaw Avenue Elementary School and graduated from Central High School in 1975.  He was on the varsity wrestling team and participated in the drama troupe, at that time directed by Mr. Lynne Lappin.  He also worked at the now-defunct Alexander's department store on Sunrise Highway.  In 1980, Buscemi became a NYC firefighter after taking the civil service test in 1976, at age 16.  For 4 years, he served on the FDNY's Engine Co. 55 in Little Italy.  After moving to Manhattan he enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Institute. Buscemi married choreographer Jo Andres in 1987. They have one son, Lucien, born in 1990.  Steve and Jo live in Los Angeles. His parents John and Dorothy (Wilson) still reside in Valley Stream.
Buscemi's 1996 film debut, Trees Lounge, in which he wrote the screenplay, directed and starred in, was shot largely in the village of Valley Stream. A microscopic portrait of Valley Stream, the film follows Tommy Basilio's (Buscemi) downward spiral as a 31year old unemployed mechanic who spends his days at Trees Lounge, the real-life bar on Central Avenue.
Click below to see a clip of the movie, which also can be purchased on

Angelo LaCalandra, a past Board Trustee, joined the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration Committee in the late 1970s. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he created a pencil drawing of how the Pagan-Fletcher house would look after its restoration. A colleague of his, another artist, Daniel Hayes, created a mechanical line rendering with Higgins ink, from Angelo’s original sketch. Museum-quality prints of the rendering were sold to help raise money for the Restoration. The original is proudly displayed on the second-floor hallway of the Restoration. 

Deborah Oppenheimer, an Oscar-winning producer, grew up in the "Old Section" of Mill Brook (Green Acres) and attended Forest Road School, South High and graduated magna cum laude from the State University College of New York at Buffalo, where she received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in 2005. 
Oppenheimer made her feature film debut with the multiple award-winning documentary, Into the Arm of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, narrated by Judi Dench and released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. She conceived and produced the film, co-authored its companion book by Bloomsbury Publishing, supervised the website design and writing of the teachers’ study guide, and produced the soundtrack. Following these accomplishments, in 2012 she was appointed by President Obama to the governing Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.  Most recently, Oppenheimer ran the Los Angeles office of Carnival Film and Television, best known as producers of the critically acclaimed and cultural phenomenon, Downton Abbey. A longtime Warner Bros. producer Oppenheimer’s numerous television series and pilots including Drew Carey and George Lopez. Oppenheimer has volunteered with Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and speaks in schools and to groups worldwide about the Kindertransport and the Holocaust.
Her grandparents immigrated to American in 1938 (Washington Heights) during WWII and settled in Valley Stream in 1938. Central Hardware Store opened in 1939 and continued to thrive for many decades until it closed in 2011, a casualty of the big box store era. Below is an article Oppenheimer wrote chronicling her Valley Stream childhood and the events that took place before and after that "moment in time."
Angela Schultz, Valley Stream resident, credited models of the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration and the Raustein Gas Station (relocated from Corona Avenue to the west side of the Restoration). These charming and delightful replicas are displayed in the West Room, on the ground floor of the Restoration.

Mike Stanko, a lifelong resident of Valley Stream, has been showing his unique and whimsical art since the 1990s. From his home, to the world beyond, he finds endless inspiration in the iconic, the familiar, and even the mundane (sunflowers, beach scenes, maybe even a grilled cheese sandwich). Each painting is lovingly created with bright fields of color in his signature eye-catching style. His paintings are buoyant and optimistic, reflective of his colorful outlook on the world around him,sprinkled with wit and plain old fun. 

Stanko’s work has been exhibited at the Ripe Gallery in Greenlawn, Mistretta Gallery in Locust Valley; the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton; the Empire State Building; and many other venues in the New York metropolitan area. He has been featured in a variety of print and television interviews and has donated art to benefit breast cancer, ALS, the Valley Stream Historical Society, and other worthy causes.

Mike met his wife, Karen Zang, also an artist, in the halls of Central High. Both are Class of '73 graduates and avid Beatle fans!

Click on the link below to read a poem written by L.S. Bassen and illustrated by Mike.  Enjoy!

Poem and 3 Illustrations




Allen Welkis, who lived for a short while in South Valley Stream (Brookside Drive), designed the 50th Anniversary book cover. Originally, the illustration on the front and back of this rectangular-shaped paperback was an oil painting.  He painted the cover, a montage of iconic and historic images of our town, at age 29, at the beginning of his career as an artist.  Most of the images depicted on the cover are included inside the book with accompanying information as to their provenance.  One will easily recognize the portrait of Robert Pagan (founding family), the stagecoach (which traveled from from Babylon to NYC), the first Valley Stream train depot, the Sagamore Hotel on Rockaway Avenue, the Henry Waldinger Library, Central High School, Holy Name of Mary Parish, Frank Stick's Truck Farm, Village Hall, and Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, among other illustrations. 

Welkis is a Studio Manager/Artist for Evergreen Architectural Arts (New York City and Chicago). He joined the firm in 1999, initially as an artist, and later serving as the Evergreen mural studio manager, leading the planning and providing direction in every major commission.  In addition to being a muralist, he also does decorative painting (trompe l'oeil, gilding and glazing, and other decorative techniques), as well as ornamental and flat plaster restoration. Selected projects of his include the Empire State Building lobby, Bushnell Theater (Hartford), Shubert Theater (NY), Eugene O'Neill Theater (NY), Miami City Hall (FL), Brooklyn Post Office, Paramount Theater (Peekskill), Boston Opera House, and the US Capitol. Welkis grew up in South Fallsburg, New York and graduated with a BFA in Illustration at Art Center College of Design, in Los Angeles, and lives in Northport, Long Island.

Amy Bentley grew up in the Green Acres/Mill Brook community of South Valley Stream where she graduated from Forest Road and South High. Her past-times include photography, genealogy, and local history. She is an active member of the Valley Stream Historical Society where she wears many hats: board trustee, webmaster, and researcher. 

In 2014, Bentley created an 11-minute retrospective of Valley Stream, "The Evolution of a Hometown." Please click on the link below to view her video.

Valley Stream - The Evolution of a Hometown