Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas Gets New Icons

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas Gets New Icons

Article excerpt

DALLAS - Leonidas Diamantopoulos put brush to a large canvas spread out on the floor of his Athens studio, etching out images of a pool of water and a man standing beside it. Slowly, the story started to come together. The Dallas Morning News reports he's not painting pictures, he said. He's writing stories.

Every so often, Diamantopoulos stood up and ascended a small spiral staircase. On a second-story balcony, he can look down at the image - better perspective for how it will look on the ceiling of a Dallas church.

"Someday after I finish the whole project, I'm sure this church will be a landmark site for Texas, he said.

After years of planning and fundraising, the icons are being prepared for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas. It took a year and a half for Diamantopoulos and three assistants to write the icons before rolling them in bubble wrap and sending them halfway across the globe to Texas.

In Dallas it takes a crew of six, including Diamantopoulos, 20 days to attach the canvases to the walls with special adhesive.

Tall scaffolding line the transepts of the church - the east- west arms of the sanctuary - where the iconographer and his crew stand high above the pews and roll out the canvases he created back in Greece.

One, with the pool of water, is hung on the north side. From ground level you can see it clearly - Jesus washing the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper.

"Iconography is theology in color, said the Rev. Christopher Constantinides, presiding priest at Holy Trinity. "You can't tell me you walk in here and not be moved.

When he was younger, Diamantopoulos wanted to be a lawyer. He was at law school in Athens when he met an iconographer and visited his studio.

He was so interested in how the master artist worked, he went back again and again. In his final year of law school, he dropped out and began training as an artist.

Two years of art school turned into six years of apprenticeship with the iconographer before he set out on his own.

"After I discovered iconography it was double, how do you say, two things at once, Diamantopoulos said. "I am in love with the church. Also, I am in love with art.

Now, 40 years later, he's a world-renowned iconographer with works in churches all over the globe. He travels whenever he's not working in one of his studios to meet with churches and install the icons. After he's done in Dallas he has appointments in London and Barcelona.

"I feel a great responsibility through the iconography here to (pass down) faith for the next generations, Diamantopoulos said. "I don't call this a business. It's a ministry.

He mainly works with Greek Orthodox sanctuaries but has also installed icons for Serbian, Antioch, Ukrainian and an Indian Orthodox church in Chicago.

One of his largest works, the Assumption of the Theotokos Cathedral in Denver, features huge images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and dozens of saints. …

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