PaperCity Magazine

March 2019- Houston

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Page 25 of 131

OBSESSIONS. DECORATION. SALIENT FACTS. 24 D ominique and John de Menil's commitment to art, activism, and the divine came together in 1971 with the opening of Houston's Rothko Chapel. With celebrations for its first half-century just two years away, the Chapel closes this month to implement a master plan devised by New York- based Architecture Research Office, which Rothko executive director David Leslie describes as "aspirational" and "visionary." The Opening Spaces campaign, announced last December, was actually 10 years in the making, says Leslie, who also uses the word "restoration" for the three-part, $30 million initiative (to date, $10 million has been raised). The Rothko shutters Monday, March 4, until December 21, in preparation for its next 50 years, with a new approach to light levels — overseen by George Sexton Associates, headquartered in Washington, D.C. — illuminating its suite of 14 deeply hued Mark Rothko paintings. The addition of a Visitor Welcome House is planned to accommodate the 110,000 individuals from 100 countries who pilgrimage to the Chapel annually. There will also be a new energy facility (above ground, to allay flooding concerns), an administrative and archives building, and a programs building with a gathering space for 200. The redux also includes a refreshed greenscape by landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz, whose other Houston RESTORATION + RENEWAL: ROTHKO CHAPEL NEARS 50 projects include the new master plan for Memorial Park. During its closure, lectures and programming will move to alternative sites until the December reopening of the Chapel, the goal of phase one. Within the Chapel campus, plans call for relocating the iconic bungalows; one was disassembled at the start of the project due to structural instability, with its materials donated to Historic Houston and Habitat for Humanity City of Houston Reuse Warehouse. The most robust, a two-story bungalow, will be moved to an empty lot across from the Chapel, where it will serve as a guest house for speakers, theologians, activists, and/or artists in residence. Leslie spoke to PaperCity: "How to take and protect the sacredness, the accessibility to the Chapel, and at the same time, be very consistent with the de Menils' idea of the Rothko Chapel as being a place for community engagement, a place to exercise one's artistic, spiritual, and justice commitment. How do we continue to live into that vision? And how do we in fact expand that vision?" Mark Rothko's son, Christopher Rothko, Chapel board member and past board chair, told PaperCity, "This project is long overdue. Correct lighting and ambiance are important for any art installation, but for the spiritual experience envisioned by the de Menils and created in the Rothko Chapel by my father, it is critical." Rothko Chapel updates and programming, Catherine D. Anspon A f e w w e e k s a g o , PaperCity had a rare experience: afternoon tea at Richmond Hall — a solitary table set within a luminous installation by Dan Flavin. The occasion for the gathering was both special and purposeful: to chat with The Menil Collection director Rebecca Rabinow, director of advancement Karen Sumner, and the four chairmen who, with their spouses, have the challenging assignment of forging a new fund-raiser, Paper Ball, for the Menil, a museum considered to be the Holy Grail of the art world. The chair couples, Stephanie and Ernie Cockrell, Caroline and Jeremy Finkelstein, Blakely and Trey Griggs, and Bridget and Patrick Wade envision a beautiful seated dinner party that's subtly edged with surrealism. Wit and inventiveness are encouraged in the choice of cocktail attire, with a wink of fun at the evening's theme, and possibly mischief in the offing. Paper Ball is a nod to the freshly opened Menil Drawing Institute; inscribe Thursday, March 21, 7 pm, in your Smythson. The ball — with PaperCity as its media sponsor, how could we resist — will be staged at Richmond Hall. To eavesdrop upon our tête-à-tête, visit papercitymag. com. Studio Menil Presents: Paper Ball, tickets $1,250 (limited quantity), tables from $10,000; contact Brandon Bourque, 713.535.3160, events@ Catherine D. Anspon PAPER BALL UNFOLDS Richmond Hall, soon to be the mise en scène for The Menil Collection's Paper Ball ALLYSON HUNTSMAN MAX BURKHALTER Paper Ball chairs Caroline Finkelstein, Blakely Griggs, Bridget Wade, Menil director Rebecca Rabinow, chair Stephanie Cockrell Christopher Rothko at Rothko Chapel ALLYSON HUNTSMAN

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