Sunday, April 24, 2011





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Modeling the latest fashion in maskwear ~ by Catherine’s son, Andre (For a different take on this image, check out the gallery’s Easter blog post!)


By the time many of you even read this post I will have most likely done three services at church.  Thaaaaaat’s right… I was up and awake at 3:30 a.m. in order to be at a rehearsal by 5:00.  We are doing a total of four services and I have the privilege of singing Ralph Vaughan Williams “Easter” from his Five Mystical Songs.  I have only done one of the other songs from this set, “The Call,” which I sang at Matt and Joanie’s wedding.

This past Good Friday my friend Paul and I took the opportunity to visit something that has been fairly high up on my list of “To-do’s” in Houston since moving here, The Rothko Chapel.

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This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Rothko Chapel by John and Dominique de Menil and famed abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Fourteen commissioned Rothko pieces (three triptychs and five individual) adorn the walls of the chapel.  Well, I say “adorn” but there’s nothing remotely ornamental about the art or the architecture.


GQ recently named the space among it’s “top 10 most mind-blowing, energizing, unorthodox, and flat-out-cool places to experience art in America” stating:

Rothko, the son of Russian immigrants, never saw this space; he died in 1970, a few months before it opened, just before they had to crack open the roof and rig up a crane to lower in his paintings—creations so large they refused to be carried in through the doors. The paintings are the only adornment in this building that from the outside looks like an electrical substation, all bricks and no windows. But inside… Inside, it's a space that makes you feel like you're living in one of Rothko's paintings. It's a place that captures opposites: It's large yet intimate. Dark yet bright. Spare yet rich. The chapel is infinity captured. Vastness contained.

~Michael Hainey (read the entire article here)


A quick stroll down the street takes you to the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum, which I had never heard of until Paul extolled how striking it is.  I think his exact words were more along the lines of: “This is probably my favorite place in the entire city.”  With a recommendation like that, how could I refuse?


(photo by Hester + Hardaway)


Opened in 1997, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel is the only place in the entire Western Hempisphere that contains intact frescoes of this style.  During the early 1980’s, the frescos were stolen from a chapel near Lysi, Cyprus, cut into 38 different pieces, and shipped to Germany for sale on the black market.  With the knowledge and approval of the Church of Cyprus, the Menil Foundation purchased the fragments and restored them to their full glory, going so far as to eschew museum placement and build an appropriately meditative environment in which to house them.


Built inside of a reliquary box of sorts, the chapel of sandblasted glass panels, steel and wood echoes the original Cyprus church from which the frescoes originated.

Orgichapel  3_byzantine_chapel_int2(Photo by Laurence Morrocco)                                        (Photo by Paul Warchol)




One of the aspects of both the Byzantine Fresco Chapel and the Rothko Chapel I appreciate the most is that the only light provided to either space is completely natural. How one painting looks during the morning will drastically change by the evening.  The glowing of the glass in the Byzantine chapel intensifies or softens depending on its exposure to the sun. 

All this being said, I believe I must concur with Paul’s earlier statement… this is now my favorite place in the city


Artist:Thomas Allen/ Album: Vaughan Williams- Five Mystical Songs

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