The Murals of Anthony Kubek
Anthony Kubek was born on November 8, 1885 in Piller-Peklen, Hungarian Kingdom (now Ruské Pekľany, Slovakia), studied in the Diocese of Prešov, and was ordained a priest in 1908. He then went on to study painting in Munich and Budapest before coming to the United States in 1920 to serve as the priest first at the Church of St Peter and Paul in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then at St. Joseph’s in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
He came to Mahanoy City to assist his father in tending to St. Mary’s, and the Mahanoy City Record American expressed great delight at the prospect of having a second Kubek in town. While Emil’s reputation was more so as priest than writer, Anthony was immediately celebrated for artistic talents. The article calls him a “gifted painter” who possesses a “priceless collection of his paintings and pastel drawings that proclaim him to be an exceptional artist, highly talented.” “Both the religious and cultural life of the community,” they write, have “received a valuable addition through the coming of Father Kubek” (February 4, 1930).
Within his first year in Mahanoy City, Anthony Kubek organized an exhibit of his art in town at the Book Mart on 130 East Centre Street, and the newspaper was particularly impressed with his landscapes of the Coal Region countryside and European cities. “Autumn Foliage” featured the Lakeside Dam, which the paper called “one of the most charming of the exhibit.” “Autumn Oak” was “an October-clad sturdy giant of the type Joyce Kilmer must have had in mind when he wrote his lovely poem, with a view of Pottsville in the distance.” And three pastels painted in Munich of “The King’s Palace,” “Market Square,” and the “Nagyhanya Church” “also form an interesting group for study” (November 29, 1930).
While the Record American most highly praised his secular work, Anthony Kubek was first and foremost a painter dedicated to religious themes.
Elsewhere, however, we see evidence that the architecture of St. Mary’s balances references to both the western and eastern theories. As you exit the nave and walk toward the narthex, you will find a murals of Sts. Cyril and Methodius on the right column but also a mural of Sts. Vladimir and Olga on the left column. Anthony Kubek’s murals, logically placed on the “pillars” of the church, signal the equality of both sets of saints to the Carpatho-Rusyn reception of Christianity.