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David Giffey is an icon in Madison iconography

An 81-year-old Arena man has painted most of the interior of Madison’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.

Ceiling of Madison's Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.jpg

David Giffey, a former combat journalist, has been creating iconography in Madison’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church since 1979. | Photo by 608today

David Giffey, an 81-year-old living in Arena, grew up on a dairy farm. He became a combat journalist with the US Army during the Vietnam War. He was also a street vendor for a while in Austin, Texas.

Then, in 1979, he got inspired at Madison’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, located on 7th Street. So much so, that he painted an icon on one of its walls.

Giffey began creating permanently installed murals and portable icons there. Executed in the traditional Eastern Christian style, he follows the traditions of liturgical art dating back more than a 1,000 years.

Through the years of his own life, he’s kept at it and keeps at it still. Today, much of the adornments in the church’s interior are almost entirely the work of this one man.

Giffey is inspired, indeed, and generations of churchgoers may also be inspired by his work.