Exploring the Texas State of Mind
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
My trip to Texas was inspired by “The Son,” a novel by Philipp Meyer. As I read, I was enamored by the multigenerational saga of a Texas family starting in the 1800s with Comanche Indian raids, to the early 1900s border disputes, to the oil boom of the 20th century. The saga maps the legacy of violence in Texas. It portrays the price of power and passion for the land. The characters in the novel depicted a fascinating culture that I wanted to experience and better understand for myself. I had to see what is the “Texas State of Mind.”
My book recommendations
The Gates of the Alamo, by Stephen Harrigan
The Son, by Philipp Meyer
All the Pretty Horses, The Border Trilogy, Book 1, by Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, by Gregory Zuckerman
On Juneteenth, by Annette Gordon-Reed
Exploring Houston: From NASA’s New Frontier to the Rothko Chapel
What is NASA’s new frontier?
The new frontier is Mars; sometime in the 2030s, humans will land there. The journey back and forth will take about 2-3 years, but we must first build a water supply, food, and other instruments. At the Space Center in Houston, one can see how NASA is reaching new heights in technology and science to explore the unknown.
When cropped into a camera’s lens, some exhibits, like the spaceship engine, look like an item in a modern art exhibition.
The Menil Collection
Houston has a surprisingly exciting variety of art exhibits, primarily thanks to Dominique and John de Menil. Their art collection is exhibited in a few buildings within walking distance from each other, in a neighborhood of craftsman-style houses with lush green plants. Houston, in general, is lush greenery; there was no water shortage here. My main interest was to see the Rothko Chapel, which has been on my list of places to visit for many years. The rest of the exhibits were a fantastic bonus, including Dan Flavin’s playful art with fluorescent lights. Even Cy Twombly, whom I usually don’t get his thing with text and line, has some beautiful paintings in a structure dedicated to him exclusively. More about the Menil on this site.
The Rothko Chapel
“We saw what a great master can do for a religious building when he is given a free hand. He can exalt and uplift as no one else.” – Dominique de Menil, on commissioning Mark Rothko to create a sacred space for Houston
The Rothko Chapel is a nondenominational chapel affiliated with the Menil Collection. It’s a place that forces you into a silent, introspective, and meditative mode. The dark canvases, a mixture of black and purple, are floor-to-ceiling and very imposing. They radiate a sense of depression and death. Rothko often wrote about human tragedy, ecstasy, and doom; he suffered from depression. The Chapel paintings were his last major commission before committing suicide. More about the Rothko Chapel is on this site.