(Zionsville, Pennsylvania / 1904 - 1987)
Mel Stark, born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania in 1903, was a student of the Impressionist style of the New Hope School, finding a mentor and lifelong friend in Walter E. Baum. Stark studied and painted with Baum in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Baum's bold and painterly, plein-air style had enormous impact and influence on Stark's artwork.
Stark studied painting, early on, at the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University and the Philadelphia Museum School before he became Baum's lead disciple in Allentown. In the 1930s Stark became a teacher at the Kline-Baum School. He also began to travel to the coastal town of Rockport, Massachusetts, where he rented a home every summer until his death. In Rockport, Stark studied with Anthony Thieme, one of the leading painters of the Rockport School. In 1945 he joined the staff at Cedar Crest College. By the 1950s he became the director of art at Muhlenberg College, and was a founder of the Lehigh Art Alliance. In 1956, the year of Walter Baum's death, Stark was elected the director of the Allentown Art Museum. In 1962 he was given first award for the best landscape by the National Society of Painters in Casein at the National Arts Club in New York City. Stark began to winter in Florida in 1969, still maintaining his home in Pennsylvania, after accepting a job at the Longboat Key Art Center, where he continued to paint marine scenes en plein-air. Stark died in Allentown on October 28, 1987.
Today his paintings hang in many private collections throughout the country and at the Berman Museum at Ursinus College, where a recent exhibition of his works was lauded nationally.