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Honoring Human Rights & Spirituality: Rothko Chapel Celebrates 40th Anniversary Gala

Honoring Human Rights & Spirituality: Rothko Chapel Celebrates 40th Anniversary Gala

A Report By Ruchi Mukherjee

Founded by John and Dominique de Menil in 1971 the Rothko Chapel is an intimate sanctuary for people of every belief. Forty years is a long journey and a very special reason to celebrate. To mark the celebration of the 40th Anniversary the chapel hosted a black tie sophisticated gala at the Houston Country Club on May 18, 2011.

Some might think of it as just another gala but one had to be in the house to experience the power and serenity amidst the presence of world renowned personalities like Bianca Jagger, Sissy Farenthold, Robert Thurman, Gayle Ross De Geurin, Lynn Wyatt, Christopher Rothko and many others.

For the first time in its history the Rothko Chapel held this gala event to toast the success of this remarkable Houston institution. For this momentous occasion, the Chapel honored Bianca Jagger with the “Visionary Award For Human Rights” for her international work on behalf of humanitarian causes. Also Robert Thurman was presented with the “Visionary Award for Spirituality” for his lead in making Tibetan art and spirituality accessible in the West.

The welcome remarks were made by Gayle Ross DeGeurin, Chair of the Board along with remarks by Executive Director Emilee Dawn Whitehurst, followed by steak and fish dinner and entertainment by Divisi Strings. Gala chair Lynn Wyatt presented and introduced the Rothko Chapel Visionary Awards and several toasts were raised.

The beautifully decorated ballroom with white and red roses swelled with pride and eyes glistened during Bianca’s speech. The lady who refused to be treated as second class, being a woman, instead she decided to become an instrument of change. She very rightly said “A small act of courage can save a life.”

Bianca the founder of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation was born in Managua, Nicaragua. After her parents’ divorce she witnessed the discrimination of a patriarchal society against a single mother.

Overall a very mesmerizing gala evening that retained its simplicity and purpose midst the goblets, the champagne and grand evening gowns. Executive Director Emilee who has been with the Rothko Chapel for three and a half years with a vision, suggested the guests take a deep breath and take in the blessings were all around. “The 40th Anniversary has been a labor of love for many people,” says Emilee.

Indian American Dinesh Singhal has served on the board of the Rothko Chapel and is thoroughly moved by the organization. “The Rothko fits perfect with Hindu philosophy and it is very dear to my heart,” says Dinesh. Later Robert Thurman in his speech stressed on tolerance of different religions.

With many exciting upcoming events like the Summer Music Series, the Rothko will stand strong with its legacy of being an institution that functions as a chapel, museum, and a forum. Just like the institution, the gala was a true representation where people from different walks of life intermingled.

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