It's the end of an era foor a North Massapequa artist. Paul Gatto is closing his gallery.
A long time staple of Main Street inFarmingdale, Paul Gatto Gallery, is shutting its doors after 45 years of business. Gatto said the closing is due in part to the expansion of the neighboring Italian restaurant, Cascarino's.
"We had an opportunity for our neighbor to take over and rent the place downstairs," said Gallo, who says the restaurant expansion has been in talks for a few years. "It has been a long, drawn out affair."
While demolition of the gallery space has already begun, Gallo says he will continue to create in his studio above the gallery which he originally used a classroom.
Customers will still be able to commission art from Gallo; art which consists of every style from classic to semi-abstract.
"They should know that I am still here. We will be keeping our signs. We'll be around," he said. "Were not looking to get a lot of work in here, just nice, quality, clientele."
Gallo said he has collected many fond memories of teaching local children after working on Main Street for so many years.
"Years ago we used to let the high school come into the gallery for a couple of weeks and the kids would show their paintings and the mayor would come and we would give them ribbons. I taught a lot of children and a lot of them have very fond memories of being here. I'm sure most of them kept those paintings that they made. It has been a very nice experience," he said.
A North Massapequa resident, Gallo said he originally opened his Farmingdale gallery in 1967 out of convenience to be near his growing family.
"It probably wasn't the best choice for an art gallery and a lot of people used to wonder how we could make out in a working class area, but we managed somehow and became very well known," he said.
After the announcement of the gallery closing, Gallo said he was shocked by outpouring of locals upset by news.
"I can't tell you how many people are so dismayed and saddened about the gallery closing. It is like a piece of their life drifted away. Almost anybody will tell you that they loved passing the gallery. They really enjoyed the gallery being here especially now that Farmingdale has gone away from being a place for retail and is pretty much a restaurant place now," he said.
Despite the change, Gallo is excited about the prospect of one of his paintings possibly becoming a permanent member of the Vatican this fall. The piece entitled "The Morsel" which is his own interpretation of the last supper, is currently on display at a museum in Washington D.C.
To commission a painting from Paul Gatto, call: (516) 694-0173.