Three months out of Stratford High School, Cody Urban — now known as Tony Mack, the artist of Colors Beyond Me — picked up and left Stratford. He went to the Bay Area of California, and points north of there. A woman he met hired him to work on her property, to take care of the house. Another man hired him to dig dirt.
“I didn’t know no one. Just took clothes and went to walk around and be free,” he said.
It was through these odd jobs that he met Mendocino, Calif.-based surface ornamentation artist Larry Fuente.
“I met him and I didn’t even know who he was. He would give me rides to the grocery store and stuff. He told me he made money gluing things onto stuff.”
Eventually Mack saved enough money for a bike. And then a 1974 lime green Dodge Dart Swinger. He started working on his first art car. He’d go to the beach and collect shells and sea glass and whatever else was free. He’s come home with backpacks of it.
One day he ran into Fuente at the store and showed him what he was working on. After that day, Mack said, “I was one of his kids. I would be at his family functions.”
Mack entered his first parade following Fuente. “He was my glue-ru.”
Mack returned to his home state because, he said, he felt in certain parts of the country, there are people who are willing to see and experience things differently. When he drove his “Hustle Hard” car art onto Paradise Green at the 2015 Artists & Artisans show, it turned every head.
“Why would you want to be anywhere else?” he said. “With my work, I go out and try to make the change. And you will see people around that car who would not normally talk to each other. And they are together, sharing something.”