Legacy of Murals by Eva and Americo Makk
Ceiling mural by Eva and Americo Makk, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Manaus, Brazil (1958). It is the world’s largest singletheme ceiling painting.
Which artists of our time will be remembered by future generations? Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome can tell you that Michelangelo is a leading art figure from the past whose work has withstood the test of time. His mural on the Sistine’s ceiling has awed and inspired viewers for hundreds of years.
Examples like Michelangelo are rare among artists today, but it is rarer still to find two notable talents in one family. Eva Makk and her husband Americo Makk are creators of grand scale public murals which have touched the hearts of viewers for nearly half a century.
Eva and Americo Makk’s long and distinguished artistic careers, beginning in Paris and Rome in the 1940’s, then on to South America in the 1950’s, and continuing today in the United States, includes the world’s largest single-theme ceiling mural, painted together by Eva Makk and Americo Makk on the huge, curved ceiling of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Manaus, Brazil. The Makks’ contribution to art history also includes murals in fifteen other churches and cathedrals in South America and the United States.
The Makks are still busy with major commissions, as they have been for more than five decades. In 2001, Eva Makk completed the second of two murals that she created for the Queen of Peace in Aurora, Colorado, one of the region's largest churches. The new murals, “The Nativity” and “The Resurrection”, each fourteen feet in length, are situated diagonally from one another, providing visual anchors for the huge interior of the church. The larger-than-life-size figures seen in the murals convey a balance of power and grace.
Parishioners have commented that Eva Makk’s murals at Queen of Peace seem to enhance the sense of sacredness in their place of worship. In fact, several viewers felt such great emotion upon seeing the mural there for the first time, that they were moved to tears.
Father William Breslin, a pastor of Queen of Peace, was sent to Aurora to build the church in 1987. But he says he was “determined not to build just a box.” From the very beginning, his idea was to incorporate art in the design, which is in contrast to the stark interiors of many churches built since the 1960’s. He observes that “ever since primitive times, humans have used art to express the spiritual,” and he feels that “art can be a facilitator for getting in touch with the mystery of God”. It took eleven years of planning, some “miraculous” fund raising, and two years of construction to complete the five million dollar church, which is now home to artworks in stained glass, sculpture and paintings.
Eva Makk stands below her 14 foot mural
“The Nativity” in Queen of Peace Church,
with Father William Breslin.
Eva Makk on a ladder, at work on “The
Resurrection” in Queen of Peace Church.
Eva and Americo Makk were Father Breslin’s first choice as artists for murals at Queen of Peace. He knew of the Makks’ reputation as renowned artists who had exhibited in museums and galleries in dozens of countries, and he also knew about their murals in cathedrals and churches on two continents. After visiting the Makks in their home and studio in Honolulu, he asked them to undertake the commission. Father Breslin was doubly pleased, because not only did Eva Makk accept the project, but after meeting her, he said, “I sensed that Eva shares my philosophy regarding the spiritual power of art.”
Work on large-scale murals can be very physically demanding, since the artist must paint on a ladder for many hours at a time. But Eva Makk is a vigorous woman with amazing energy and dedication. Each day for many months, Eva Makk poured every bit of herself and her wellhoned
artistic skills into the creation of the murals.
Eva Makk feels that artworks with religious themes are a particular challenge, because she says, “my ultimate goal is to create something totally new [with] these religious subjects which have been depicted by artists for centuries. It is like trying to walk a new path on a tightrope where many artists have walked before.” She explains, “My scope is to reach a sensitive chord in the viewers which has never been reached before... in a sense changing their lives by touching this newly felt dimension in their psyche.” Eva Makk describes this aspect of her work as “sobering and humbling.”
In addition to their reputation as creators of major murals, Eva Makk, her husband Americo Makk, and their son A.B. Makk, who is also an accomplished artist, are each internationally renowned for their paintings which are regularly exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe and Asia. Furthermore, Americo Makk was selected to paint portraits for the U.S. White House of President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and President Jimmy Carter in 1979. He has also painted portraits of Cardinal Mindszenty for the Vatican and many celebrities including Eva Gabor, Barbara Carrera and Ray Price. Eva Makk is also a highly respected portrait artist. Her portraits include President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, Princess Kyoko Osano of Japan and other international dignitaries.
Word about Eva Makk’s murals is spreading, attracting tourists to Queen of Peace to see the art. “The Nativity” and “The Resurrection” murals are now seen by more than 5,000 people each week. These murals, like other artworks by Eva Makk and Americo Makk which will be seen and enjoyed for generations, are indeed a legacy for the future.