Collections/Edward Curtis/Natives of North Egypt
Living most of his life in Alaska, Roger Pike had developed a great love for the Alaskan people. For 25 of those years, he managed his own wholesale business supplying gift shops with Eskimo art, Native art and early Alaskana. Flying into small villages to buy handicrafts from the native people, he couldn’t help but notice that from miles away, the first sight to be seen was the church. It was always the largest building, the most beautiful and colorful building in the village.
One day, he was approached by a bank manager, asking if he would be interested in working with three Russian business men and a business relationship was formed. He traveled extensively back and forth to Russia. From the Black Sea, all through Siberia, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
On a warm sunny day in Red Square Roger was facing the Kremlin wall. To his left was St. Basil’s Cathedral. He looked at that marvelous structure and thought, “How could a church survive some of the most brutal dictatorships the world has ever known?” It stood there unharmed, for over 400 years. With that thought, it was as if a light went off in his head. “Someone needs to make a record of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Alaska.” The vision of painting these churches never left his mind.
Years later, due to failing health, he found a new career, expediting in the trucking industry. This provided the opportunity to start the project painting the churches. During the next eight years, living out of his truck, Roger logged over 1,000,000 miles, delivering product in all 48 states, he researched the churches, found an artist and financed the complete project.
This was just the beginning of the journey. He then commissioned a prominent European artist to paint a series of Edward Curtis’s photographs in their original sepia-toned colors, highlighting a pictorial documentation of thirty Native Tribes of North America. After that, the 21 Catholic Missions of California. Seeing the connection between the Orthodox community of Alaska and the Catholic community of California, Roger felt the the missions would be an appropriate addition to the Alaskan Churches.