Jay Johnson -- Many TV commentators discuss the past year's events and rank them. War stories rate high on the list, as they always do when America is engaged in combat overseas.
I received inspiration for this week's Video Design Diary while jogging through Manhattan's upper west side neighborhood. First, I was freezing, despite being bundled up in a D&G ski hat and layers of Under Armor and sweats.
But I warmed up quickly when I stopped to film the Nicholas Roerich Museum on Riverside Drive and 107th Street.
Most people have never heard of Nicholas Roerich, but in a time of war, he is worth introducing to our design-savvy audience. Roerich (1874-1947) had an extraordinary life that reads like a fairy tale. Here are some of the highlights.
Early training in art and the law, with strong interests in literature, architecture, and philosophy
Hugely influential stage designer, e.g., set designs for the 1913 Paris premiere of Igor Stravinski's The Rite of Spring
Widely collected painter, and globally influential author and spiritual teacher
He and his wife Helena traveled through the United States in 1920 and then settled in New York in 1921, founding the Master Institute of the United Arts, which is now the Nicholas Roerich Museum
Went to India in 1923 and toured extensively throughout the region; in 1928, they moved to a home in the foothills of their beloved Himalayas
In 1929, back in New York, he proposed the Roerich Pact which urged member countries to fly the Banner of Peace, a flag with three magenta circles, symbolizing art, science, and religion of all cultures co-existing within beauty, truth, and harmony
The flag is considered the "Red Cross" of art and culture, alerting the world to important sites that must be protected from war at all costs because of their priceless architectural, cultural, religious, and artistic significance (see the Center for Peace Through Culture)
In 1929, Roerich was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; he received two more nominations during his lifetime
The Archaeological Survey of India, Department of Culture, Government of India declared Roerich's Over the Pass painting and the works of a small number of artists "not being antiquities, to be art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value"
Roerich moved permanently to India in 1936, and his paintings of the region express a sense of freedom through the imagery of nature's vastness juxtaposed with the solitariness of the human
In the 500 video shorts contained in my Design2Share Video Library on YouTube, you will see examples where I have taken my video camera -- a sturdy palm-sized Radio Shack $99 camtastic Sanyo special -- and shot videos of culturally significant buildings.
Watch my Unusual NYC Museum video and you will see the outside of the Nicholas Roerich Museum. Unfortunately I could not shoot inside the museum, but even if I did, I could never have captured the profound beauty of Roerich's artwork. He instilled light and spirituality on canvas in the most moving way. I urge you to see his works whenever possible, on display throughout the world, and particularly in this Manhattan museum.
Peace on Earth, and Good Will to All.