Palette Places: Houston's Menil Collection

If you’ve noticed, the sea is white three quarters of the time, just white - early morning. Only in the fall does it get blue, because the haze is gone. The Mediterranean, at least - the Atlantic is brown - is just always white, white, white. And then, even when the sun comes up, it becomes a lighter white. Only in the fall is the Mediterranean this beautiful blue colour, as in Greece. Not because I paint it white; I’d have painted it white even if it wasn’t, but I am always happy that I might have. It’s something that has other consciousness behind it.
— "Say Goodbye Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor." Musings and Considerations of a Painter/Medicine-Man; Excerpts from two interviews with Cy Twombly excerpted by Jerry Saltz.


For our wedding ceremony, Andrew and I decided to exchange vows in his home state Texas, at The Rothko Chapel.


Months before we got married, we had spent a weekend in Houston getting to know the city and visiting The Rothko Chapel for the first time. The chapel is part of the sprawling Menil Collection neighborhood. Lined with gray 1920’s bungalows and giant oak trees, the campus houses art installations and museum buildings across 30 acres. 


This includes the heartbreakingly beautiful Cy Twombly Gallery which I had been looking forward to visiting for the longest time. Where the Rothko Chapel was dark and felt like entering a thick forest right after it had rained, the Cy Twombly Gallery is its bright white foil, an embodiment of seeing morning sun reflecting on the ocean.


As soon as you enter you are greeted by the 53 foot, right to left Twombly painting Say Goodbye Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor. At the turn of every corner there is the same raw emotion of seeing several Twombly paintings and sculptures in one room. The simple way the space is lit by natural sunlight against ceilings of white canvas sailcloth is enough to take your breath away. Afterwards I got the accompanying book which details Renzo Piano and Cy Twombly’s collaborative process in designing the flow of light and the building. I highly recommend reading through it if you visit the gallery, the book gives some eye opening insight on how physical and intentional the space really is. 

Also worth a visit is the light show at James Turrell's Twilight Epiphany skyspace at Rice University, which is not far from the Menil. The day before we got married, we went to see the evening light show sequence, a sea of colors reflected on the 72 foot square knife-edge roof. There is a show everyday, one at sunset and another at sunrise. 


1. Cy Twombly Facade, iPhone photo by me. 2. Palm Tree in Front of The Rothko Chapel, film photo by me. 3. Cy Twombly Gallery, photo by Takaaki Matsumoto. 4. Cy Twombly Gallery, photo by Takaaki Matsumoto. 5. James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace show, iPhone photo by me.