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Arts & Culture

A New Face At Rothko

After 18 years in Oregon, David Leslie is finally back in his home state as Rothko Chapel’s new executive director.


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David Leslie, on the porch of Rothko Chapel’s office. After 18 years at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, he’s back in Houston as the chapel’s new executive director.

In the coming weeks, one of David Leslie’s first priorities is to meet as many people as possible in his new role.  

And the other thing that’s really significant is really asking the question of people I meet, ‘What does the Rothko Chapel mean to you?’” he says.

Leslie is a native East Texan and spent some time in Houston as director of Interfaith Ministries in the early 90s. For nearly the past two decades, he served as director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. He hopes to bring some of his previous ideas and experiences to the Rothko

“From my work prior, we used a lot of interns and really did a lot of outreach into schools and colleges and universities,” he says. “I think this is what we’re really going to see a lot more here at the chapel …  making those intergenerational connections.”

He adds that coming back to Houston wasn’t a hard decision.

“It’s an amazing group of people, so I think the privilege is being part of that community. And to be able to hopefully bring in some of these ideas and experiences that I’ve had,” he said.

The chapel’s name comes from 20th century artist Mark Rothko, whose paintings hang inside the sanctuary. The creative space is known internationally for uniting spirituality, art, and architecture. 

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