Damascene Gallery is committed to offering beautiful Orthodox icons of exceptional quality. We have been working to perfect our icon concept for years and our vision finally became a reality in August 2010 when Damascene Gallery was launched on the feastday of the icon “Not Made By Hands”. This feastday, together with the feast of our heavenly patron St John of Damascus, constitute our two primary feastdays.
At our headquarters in West Virginia, which is less than a mile from the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, we maintain our printshop and a woodshop and we are hoping to open our new storefront by Pascha of 2012, which will feature an expanded inventory of mounted icons, all our antique and new icon inventory, our carved crosses, and more. We are even working on plans to construct a chapel in honor of St John of Damascus, where Liturgy will be served once a month and on certain feastdays.
Our approach to mounted icons is different than that used by many icon producers. We do not want our icons to have an overproduced look and feel to them… instead, it was our desire from the outset to create mounted icons that capture something of the “presence” that hand-painted icons have. While we strongly feel that mounted icons can never take the place of hand-painted icons within the Orthodox Church, we realize that in the modern day, the majority of icons in both churches and homes are reproductions. Our thinking is simple: why should the quality of reproduction icons be so much lower than that of hand-painted icons? Inspired by this question, we pioneered our signature High Quality Mounted Icons in 2010 by using only the highest quality materials: Carefully selected solid-wood panels with hardwood support slats, Archival quality canvas meticulously chosen for its unobtrusive weave and brilliant depth of color, Archival, pigment-based inks laid down using state-of-the-art printers and a unique system of varnish replete with UV inhibiters, which have been shown to make treated images retain their vibrance and color trueness in excess of 100 years. We have been commercially producing icons using this design since 2010, and our initial launch was preceded by an extended period of development. With our current experience, we have absolutely perfected our process and the resulting icons have a fit and finish that we believe is second-to-none.
In 2011, we took our canvas icon concept to a new level and began offering what we describe as “Printed Fresco” icons. By this term, we mean icons that are available in typically ultra large format which Damascene Gallery custom lays out for churches to create the effect of being fully painted. This is an approach used today by many iconographers who paint icons on canvas in their studios and bring them to churches en masse for installation. We are using our unique skills in image manipulation and retouching to achieve custom layouts that can be retrofitted to almost any situation. Due to our pre-processing of images, many projects can be completed within weeks instead of years and at costs which are truly a fraction of the costs typically associated with painting. Our extensive image collection is further accented by our vast collection of iconographic ornaments, towels and other designs which can be laid out in concert with our printed fresco icons to create a holistic, polished feel.
Damascene Gallery is committed to providing first-quality icons and other products for years to come. We have laid down roots and have relocated the headquarters of our business to be adjacent to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross where, from our workshop, we hear the monastery bells both morning and evening. Our printshop is run by Fr Jonah Campbell, rector of Christ the Savior parish in Wayne, WV and the woodshop is operated by Silouan, Fr Jonah’s brother who continues to occasionally paint icons on the side. Our hope at Damascene Gallery is really very simple: we are successful to the extent that our work succeeds in drawing all of us to a deeper spiritual life, to a deeper awareness of our own frailty and need for repentance and to the union of our souls with Christ, the image of the Invisible God.