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 Melville F. Stark  (1903 - 1987)

About: Melville F. Stark


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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: landscape, marine, townscape

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BIOGRAPHY for Melville Stark
1903 (Honesdale, Pennsylvania)


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Often Known For
landscape, marine, townscape

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A leading figure in eastern Pennsylvania, Mel Stark was a plein-air painter and teacher who, with his good friend, Walter Baum, was devoted to enriching the cultural life of the Allentown area. He was also a key painter at the artists colony in Rockport, Massachusetts and in his later years, painted at Longboat Key Art Center in Florida.

He taught at the Kline-Baum Art School, and Cedar Crest and Muhlenberg Colleges in Allentown, and was committed to the tradition of impressionist landscape painting. However, his reputation waned in the 1960s, when the public lost interest in impressionism and focused more on modernist movements.

He was born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and earned a degree from Stroudsburg State College in Physical Education, but he had already started painting and subsequently abandoned Physical Education. He later studied art at the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, and the Philadelphia Museum School. Major influences on him were landscape painters Cullen Yates, Walter Baum, and Anthony Thieme. He studied privately with Yates in New York, and Yates encouraged Stark to go to Paris, which he did but hung around the cafes with artists rather than attending any academy.

In 1926, he returned to Allentown and worked for several years as a physical education teacher, but then came into contact with Baum with whom he studied art and then ended up being a teacher at the Baum School of Art.

He married Ann Gomery with whom he had two children, and they moved into a farmhouse in Zionsville near Allentown. In addition to having an art career, he was an active promoter of the Allentown Art Museum, which he served as both trustee and director.

Source: American Art Review, February 2002.

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