Melville Stark was a leading figure in the art history of eastern Pennsylvania. He was a painter, organizer and teacher. Like his close associate, Walter Baum (born 1884), he helped to create and to enrich the fine arts community in the Allentown area. At one time, Stark was also considered one of the ten leading painters at the summer colony of Rockport, Massachusetts. As an artist, Stark worked in the tradition of plein-air (outdoor landscape painting) , and spent his time chronicling the beauty of the rural Pennsylvania landscape and the wharfs of New England. He wished to keep the tradition of Impressionist landscape painting alive by passing it onto others through his teaching … in the Allentown area. By the 1960’s people began to lose interest in the style of landscape painting they had come to see as overly traditional. Stark did not live long enough to se the resurgence of interest in traditional schools.
Mel Stark was born September 29, 1903 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He graduated from East Stroudsburg State College with a degree in Physical Education; later attending the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University and the Philadelphia Museum School to study painting. His strongest influences were, however, other artists such as Cullen Yates, Anthony Thieme and Walter Baum, the latter becoming Stark’s teacher in Allentown beginning in the 1920’s. Stark became a teacher at the Kline-Baum School and was instrumental in the growth of the Allentown Art Museum while also maintaining a presence in Rockport, Massachusetts. In his later years, he worked and painted in Florida, summering in Rockport. He passed away on October 28, 1987 in Allentown, while on his way back to Florida from Rockport”. Dr. Thomas Folk.