Demetrios Dukas, Greek Orthodox church artist, dies at 83

(FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER) - Demetrios Dukas works on the dome at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in the District.

(FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER) - Demetrios Dukas works on the dome at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in the District.

By Lauren Wiseman
24/6/2011

Demetrios Dukas, 83, an artist who created Byzantine-style mosaics and paintings in churches including St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, died June 15 at his home in Bowie of complications from pneumonia.

Until St. Sophia’s completion in 1984, Mr. Dukas spent 20 years painting icons throughout the cathedral.

His mosaics appear on the 1,400-square-foot dome that sits 79 feet above the cathedral floor and depicts when the biblical figure Isaiah has a vision of God. The section behind the altar is also adorned with his iconography.

Mr. Dukas’s wife, the former Patricia Russell, said he created each small piece of the mosaic in his home studio. She estimated he completed more than 11,000 square feet of artwork for the church.

Throughout his five-decade career, Mr. Dukas decorated other Greek Orthodox churches in the United States, including the Annunciation in Mobile, Ala., St. Demetrios in Parkville, Md., St. Mary’s in Minneapolis and Archangels in Stamford, Conn.

He also painted at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.,

James Amos Dukas was born July 2, 1927, in Lynn, Mass., into a Greek Orthodox family. As he developed an interest in art as a career, he told his family that he was drawn to Byzantine art and icons because of the power and symbolism they held for members of the church.

He graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1951 and studied Byzantine art in Greece, Italy and Turkey on a fellowship. He later went to Greece to study under Photios Kontoglou, a Greek iconographer whose work led to a renewed interest in Byzantine art.

Mr. Dukas, who took the name Demetrios for his work, moved to the Washington region in 1964 when he began working at St. Sophia. He had lived in Bowie since 1969.

He supervised workshops on mosaics at the Smithsonian Institution and conducted lectures on Byzantine art at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington.

Besides his wife of 47 years, of Bowie, survivors include a daughter, Cassandra Berres of Bel Air, Md.; a brother; and two grandchildren.

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