Top Five: Ways to Celebrate the Rothko Chapel's 40th Birthday

Come 2011 the Rothko Chapel will be turning 40 and the chapel's foundation has been hard at work planning a year's worth of stuffy events to celebrate: high-brow concerts, solemn spiritual ceremonies, formal rededications, and so forth. While we've enjoyed such offerings in the past, we imagined things a bit differently for the site as it approaches an imminent mid-life crisis -- a redefinition of self, if you will -- which may or may not include a younger, perkier obelisk.

Therefore, for the foundation's consideration, we offer our following top five suggestions of what we'd like to see happen inside the chapel to liven things up a bit.

5. Revisit The Salad Days of Youth With the architectural struggles and the suicide of Rothko himself just before the chapel's completion, we've been wondering if the building ever really got to enjoy its own childhood. We think it would only be proper to indulge in some time-traveling interior redesigning and turn the mood ring back to 1971. It's already got pillows on the floor, but let's double that and add some beanbag chairs and inflatable loveseats. Shag carpet is a must. Also: Blacklights. Everywhere. Put some kind of giant hookah in the center, cart in an old Asteroids arcade machine, order a couple dozen pizzas, and call it a party already.

4. A Little Comic Relief Have you ever laughed inside the Rothko Chapel? Neither have we. If there's one thing those giant black paintings have in common with stand-up comedy, its a healthy dose of existential dread.

We want the foundation to set up a night -- hell, a week-long run -- of dark, dark comedy taking place within the chapel's walls. Faced with the absurd and harsh facts of life, the unavoidable looming blackness of the art has the potential to be a powerfully surreal if not entirely overwhelming experience. Maybe the foundation has held off thus far only for safety reasons.

3. A Trampoline Seriously, the place is basically begging for it. Remember how Sigourney Weaver's apartment building in Ghostbusters turned out to be specifically designed as some sort of antenna for demonic spirits? Well, this is exactly like that, except we're talking about the Rothko Chapel and how it appears to have been designed to fit one giant-ass trampoline, and it's just waiting for the planets to align or the "streams to cross"...or something like that.

Anybody who knows anything about art knows that you haven't really experienced a Rothko painting unless you've caught sight of it upside-down between your legs while executing a double-bounced backflip.

2. MMA is an "Art," Right? There's no denying the fact that the Rothko Chapel is an octagon, and these days there's pretty much only one thing that ever happens in an octagon: questionably legal and brutally violent matches of mixed martial arts as popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Since Texas is one of the states where this kind of sport is condoned, we thought we could start our own Museum Martial Arts league featuring the heavy hitters of the Houston gallery scene taking to each other's throats. Of course we'd have to pump them so full of steroids and some disgusting cocktail of douchebag-enhancing chemicals that we'd probably end up more depressed than anything.

Actually, on second thought, we're not really behind this idea at all. We're more of a sumo-wrestling city anyway.

1. Obelisk Piñata Party Why is the obelisk broken? What does it mean? What does that have to do with Martin Luther King, Jr.? We're starting to think that maybe we should actually attend one of these informative events, but we'd rather just make up our own answers. If you get some customized obelisk-shaped piñatas and fill them with delicious, delicious candy, we think everyone would have a much better understanding of why it needs to be broken. Finally.

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