The Very Reverend John S. Bakas is the Dean of St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, where he has served his congregation since 1995. Along with his talented leadership of the Cathedral, and his spiritual commitment to the Greek community in LA, Father Bakas spearheaded the drive for the major restoration of the Cathedral, including its grounds and adjacent buildings. This renovation spawned the redevelopment of the surrounding area into what is now the Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles.
Father Bakas’ formal portrait was commissioned in 2011 by Michael Huffington in recognition of his 10 years of service to his flock and for the grand opening of the Huffington Center, a beautiful new administrative building on the cathedral grounds.
The portrait of Father Bakas is hung on the left side of a double marble staircase. Hanging on the opposite wall of the staircase and also overlooking the entrance is Gottlieb’s portrait of Michael Huffington.
The Huffington Center complex was made possible by several key donors including Michael Huffington, the Maniatakos Family, Tom and Rita Hanks, Jim Gianopulos, as well as hundreds of other donors in the Saint Sophia Community and spans over 55,000 square feet on two levels.
Father Bakas’ charismatic personality has engaged him as consultant for the Orthodox perspective on Steven Spielberg’s production, Prince of Egypt and Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ, and an on-air commentator for the A&E production of Christianity, The First Thousand Years.
Adrian Gottlieb painted Fr Bakas at his private studio in LA over the period of 10 sittings during the fall of 2011, during which the artist enjoyed getting to know the in depth personality of this fascinating and inspiring man and incorporating the complexity of the man into the work.
During the process of the painting, Adrian made several visits to the great Byzantine style St Sophia Cathedral to reference the Altar Screen, and view the highly ornate prayer icons; highly ornate ornamental staff work, gilded in 24-carat gold leaf. Adrian included the left most three icons in the background of the portrait, which features the altar and stained glass windows glowing from above.
Reading from the Saint Sophia.org website is a verbal description of these precious icons. “The first icon to the left of the Royal Door represents the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child. … The icon to the left of the Virgin Mary depicts the “Holy Wisdom of God,” or Agia Sophia, and is, as in the Narthex, the artist’s conception of the Holy Trinity. The leftmost icon is Saint Athanasios.”
Also featured in Gottlieb’s portrait are the gold altar chalice, pectoral cross and vestments of dean. The vestments and cross were painted separately in Gottlieb’s studio so that he could focus on the valuable sitting time with Fr Bakas, capturing his warmth and personality, as well as painting his hands, all from life.
- Size: 50 x 35 inches
- Medium: Oil on Linen