There’s A Chapel Dedicated To Rothko In Montrose

Colby Smith Colby Smith

There’s A Chapel Dedicated To Rothko In Montrose

Kneel at the alter of Abstract Expressionism.

Masterful artists often are exalted with holy reverence. Ingenuity, insight, and genius confound the layman such that no possible explanation can rationalize artists’ masterpieces than divine origination. Lemmy Kilmister is a god, Dolly Parton is an angel, and Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, is literally being considered for sainthood. In Houston, a chapel stands as a testament to the artwork of Mark Rothko.

Tucked in the heart of Montrose, across the shaded lawn from the Menil Collection is the quiet, unassuming Rothko Chapel. Since 1971, the chapel has served as a modern landmark and quiet sanctuary. Inside the space a stillness is almost palpable, giving visitors a meditative ambiance upon which to look upon the 14 Rothko murals adorning its walls.

Commissioned by founders, John and Dominique de Menil, the paintings took two years to complete – “seven canvases with hard-edged black rectangles on maroon ground, and seven purple tonal paintings.”

Outside, the chapel features the artwork of Barnett Newman; Broken Obelisk hovers above the chapel’s reflecting pool in dedication to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Visitors are welcome inside the chapel as a respite from the chaos of surrounding life. From Wednesday through Sunday the chapel is open from 10 am – 6 pm. While admission is free, visitors must first reserve timed tickets. Additionally, due to the circumstances, all visitors over the age of 10 are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing of 6 feet.

“The Rothko Chapel is oriented towards the sacred, and yet it imposes no traditional environment,” said co-founder Dominique de Menil. “It offers a place where a common orientation could be found – an orientation towards God, named or unnamed, an orientation towards the highest aspirations of Man and the most intimate calls of the conscience.”

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