Patch Together

Thank you for the thought-provoking article in July’s issue on the role renewable energy may play in the Texas economy [“What Lies Ahead”]. I have worked in oil and gas in both field and corporate settings in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. (And I am fortunate enough at this writing to still be employed.) Christian Wallace is a gifted storyteller whose authentic voice eloquently captures stories from the oil patch. He paints a picture that rings true for those of us in an industry that is not only a commodity but a lifestyle. I share his nostalgia, but I also share his optimism, as someone with many working years ahead, that perhaps we can learn to think of ourselves as a part of the energy industry, not just the oil and gas industry. Unlike coal, which conjures an image of the worker in the public eye, oil and gas has often been faceless (or simply evokes images of rich executives or landowners). I am glad to see the stories of the roughnecks, drillers, and roustabouts, which so often go untold.

Laura Gasvoda Wright,  Oklahoma City

Chapel of Love?

Thank you for your essay on the restoration of the Rothko Chapel [“Let There Be Light,” July 2020]. I too was unmoved by the chapel when I visited it a few years ago, and I appreciate your frank critique of the cold and unemotional qualities of some modernist art and architecture.

Kenny Suit, Johnson City, Tennessee

I first came across artist Mark Rothko at the Tate Modern, in London, and came away a fan. I fully understand when the author refers to art conservationist Carol Mancusi-Ungaro’s comment that Rothko’s paintings were meant to “draw you in,” for that’s exactly what happened to me that London morning. I look forward to visiting the chapel when I am next in Houston (although I must confess my stops in Houston these days are as a way station on my way to College Station to watch my beloved Aggies). Gig ’em, Mark.

Doug Matthews, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Talking Pictures

The Texanist’s list of Texas-set movies [The Texanist, July 2020] is a fine survey, with many of my favorites, but I’d like to advocate for one he left off: True Stories, the warmhearted, oddball musical comedy from Talking Heads front man David Byrne. True Stories is as strange, tacky, and beautiful as our home state, populated by a multiethnic cast including gospel music legend Pops Staples, Chicano punk rocker Tito Larriva, and veteran actor John Ingle, as a proto–Alex Jones evangelist. Plus, I learned more from the crash-course opening montage (which ranges from the dinosaurs to the Reagan years) than I did in my entire seventh-grade Texas history class. Sometimes it takes an outsider (in this case, an East Coast art-school weirdo like Byrne) to most clearly see a place for what it is, and this movie’s wide-eyed wonder could make any Texan get a little misty.

Tyler McGaughey, Chicago