Glenwood Gazette

                A Monthly Publication for Frontier Communities in Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona




Tom Lea Month,October 2011
Celebration of Our Mountains

Arranged by Venues

Check the website for updates and changes: or call The Tom Lea Institute (915) 533-0048

The Plaza Theatre ~ Keynote Event
El Paso Club
El Paso Historical Society
El Paso Museum of Archaeology
El Paso Museum of Art
El Paso Museum of History
El Paso Public Library
Franklin Mountains State Park, McKelligon Canyon
Mexican Consulate
Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ)
Old El Paso Federal Courthouse
Tom Lea Institute at the Mills Building
The University of Texas at El Paso

Keynote Event My El Paso by Laura Bush

Friday, October 14, 2011 6:00 p.m. The Plaza Theatre 125 Pioneer Plaza 915-534-0605 $25 contribution to Tom Lea Institute, 201 East Main Dr, Suite 1516., El Paso, TX 79901, 915-533-0048

Laura Bush spent many summer months in El Paso; her grandparents, Jessie and Hal Hawkins, lived in Canutillo. Her mother, Jenna Hawkins Welch, grew up in El Paso, attending El Paso High School and Texas Western College of Mines. Jenna had her first date with her future husband - a handsome Ft. Bliss soldier named Harold Welch - in Ciudad Juárez, as reported by the El Paso Times. The former first lady of the United States will speak about her family ties to El Paso, tell stories of her summer stays, and share what she finds so special about "the dried up, bare, empty country" she loves to visit. Following Laura Bush's remarks, there will be a screening of highlights from Capstone Production's documentary film "Tom Lea's El Paso," which she introduced from the White House in 2008.


Tom Lea and Jose Cisneros, A Border Story by Adair Margo

Saturday, October 1, 2011 12:00 noon José Cisneros Cielo Vista Branch Library 1300 Hawkins 915-594-7680 Free

Jose Cisneros watched silently in 1938 as Tom Lea worked on his Pass of the North mural in the El Paso Federal Courthouse, gathering courage to interrupt his work. Cisneros showed Lea his drawings of historic figures of the Spanish borderlands, done in pen and ink on the backs of discarded signs. Cisneros later claimed that what happened changed the course of his life. Adair Margo, who recorded the oral histories of both men, will trace their boyhoods in Mexico and the United States and illuminate their first meeting in downtown El Paso.

The Arrival of the First Train to El Paso

by Prince McKenzie, director of the El Paso Railroad Museum Saturday, October 1, 2011 2:00-3:30 p.m. El Paso Museum of History 510 N. Santa Fe 915-351-3588 Free

In 2009, a rare Tom Lea drawing that depicts the arrival of the first train to El Paso was loaned to the El Paso Museum of History by the Henry Taylor Family. The detailed pen-and-ink illustration was initially created for the 75th anniversary of the El Paso Times in 1956. Lea's illustration will be unveiled as a new addition to the Transportation Gallery, followed by a presentation on the historic event it commemorates and a discussion of Engine #1, the train Lea used as a model for his drawing. A downtown tour will follow, culminating in a visit to the El Paso Railroad Museum to see Engine #1. Families are welcome to this presentation and can enjoy hands-on activities that show how a conductor signals with his lantern and what train whistles and bells mean.

Desert Plants in the Art of Tom Lea

by Jan Dreher, artist and master gardener Sunday, October 2, 2011 2:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Archaeology 4301 Transmountain Drive 915-755-4332 Free

Tom Lea had a reverence for the world around him and used his skills as an artist to capture the "Almighty's majestic handiwork" in "portrait likeness." Jan Dreher will share slides of Lea's paintings with details of a variety of high Chihuahuan Desert plants before taking visitors out to Mount Franklin to discover them for themselves.

Guided tours of Tom Lea's murals in downtown El Paso

Tuesdays, October 6, 13, 20 & 27, 2011 5:30 p.m. Old El Paso Federal Courthouse Corner of San Antonio and Campbell streets 915-533-0048 and El Paso Public Library 501 North Oregon 915-543-5401 Free

Tom Lea's 1938 Pass of the North mural has inspired generations in its depiction of the giants of El Paso's history and the representation of its founding cultures: the Indian, the Spaniard, the Mexican and the Anglo. Lea consulted more than 30 volumes and found appropriate models to pose for him in the desert in authentic period costumes. Although this masterpiece is now closed to the public, arrangements have been made through the General Services Administra-tion to view what is arguably the finest mural of its period in the United States. After seeing Pass of the North, participants will walk or ride to the El Paso Public Library to see Lea's 1956 Southwest mural. He painted it as a "luminous window" looking out upon an elemental landscape. The mural was relocated to the entrance of the new library building in 2006.

Tom Lea at War

by Dr. Bruce Cole, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and ~ Tom Lea's World War II Sketchbook at the El Paso Museum of Art by Dr. Michael Tomor

Thursday, October 6, 2011 5:30-7:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Free

Dr. Bruce Cole discovered Tom Lea while serving as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2001-2009. He recently visited an exhibition of World War II art at the American Constitution Center in Philadelphia and was struck by the power of Tom Lea's eye-witness accounts. After Dr. Cole's remarks, Dr. Michael Tomor will share drawings from Tom Lea's 1942 Sketchbook, created while Lea was on the USS Hornet and U.S.S. Grouper in the Coral Sea, on view in the Tom Lea Gallery. Dr. Tomor will compare sketches to the final oil paintings Lea completed after returning home from war.

Benito Juarez to Chiang Kai-Shek: Tom Lea's Historic Portraits and the Stories Behind Them

by Adair Margo, president of the Tom Lea Institute Saturday, October 8, 2011 2:00-3:30 p.m. El Paso Museum of History 510 N. Santa Fe 915-351-3588 Free

Tom Lea did not paint portraits for hire, once telling a friend that "to own one of my portraits, you don't have to be rich, just interesting." Lea painted some of the world's most interesting personalities including General Claire Chennault, Jimmy Doolittle, and Madame and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. He also painted close friends J. Frank Dobie, Bill Burrows, Charles Leavell, Carl Hertzog and Catalan sculptor Urbici Soler. Margo, who recorded Lea's oral history in 1993, will relay the reverence Lea felt for portraiture and the personalities behind the faces he chose to paint.

Tom Lea ~ An Artist Emerges by Danny Gonzalez Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:00 noon José Cisneros Cielo Vista Branch Library 1300 Hawkins 915-594-7680 and Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:00 noon El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Free

Tom Lea knew from the time he was a little boy that he wanted to be an artist. It didn't set him apart from other children; it was just that he loved to draw. Danny Gonzalez of the Border Heritage Center at the El Paso Public Library will share illustrations from Tom Lea's days as the senior class editor of the El Paso High School yearbook, The Spur. The illustrations will transport visitors to the everyday life of young Tom Lea during a rich time in El Paso's history. Attendees will receive a commemorative bibliography of sources.

Tom Lea and the Indian People of the Southwest by Nick Houser, anthropologist

Sunday, October 9, 2011 2:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Archaeology 4301 Transmountain Drive 915-755-4332 Free

When Tom Lea first visited the Grand Canyon as a little boy, he was most fascinated with the Hopi House on its rim. Throughout his life, Lea studied the ways of Southwest Indians, which led to paintings like Snake Dancers in the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts; Ghost at Noon Came Riding at the El Paso Museum of Art; Comancheros in the Seymour, Texas Post Office; and Sitting Bull in the Texas State Capitol. While showing slides of Tom Lea's work, Nick Houser will analyze what their details tell viewers about the lives of Native Americans in the Southwest.

Tom Lea: A Man Alone in the Space of the Land

by painter Katherine Alexander Thursday October 13, 2011 5:30-7:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Free

West Texas continues to draw artists, one of them painter Katherine Alexander of New York City. Like Georgia O'Keefe, whose move to Texas inspired her to paint again, Alexander has found an inexhaustible supply of subject matter in the southwestern landscape and sky. While in Texas, Alexander became an admirer of the paintings of Tom Lea and his profound understanding of his homeland's intense sunlight, huge space and naked form. She will speak about Tom Lea's paintings from a painter's point of view.

Lunch Presentation

Tom Lea: A Case for the Texas Quadrumvirate

by Brandon Shuler, literary historian and PhD candidate at Texas Tech University Friday, October 14, 2011 12 noon El Paso Club, Chase Bank Building 200 East Main 915-544-1135 $20 for lunch; RSVP to Tom Lea Institute (915-533-0048; by October 11

In 1964, Frank Wardlaw, then director of the University of Texas Press, delivered J. Frank Dobie's eulogy. He referred to Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek as the Texas Triumvirate. The tribute to the three stuck and has since defined the direction and study of Texas literature and cultural thought, relegating Tom Lea to the margins. Brandon D. Shuler explores the graphic and literary works of Tom Lea and makes a case for Lea's inclusion into a newly defined Texas Quadrumvirate.

The Mystery of Our Mountains: How the Franklin and Sierra de Juárez Were Formed by Phil Goodell, Ph.D.

Saturday, October 15, 2011 3:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Archaeology 4301 Transmountain Drive 915-755-4332 Free

The Franklin Mountains and Sierra de Juárez stand silent and majestic against the sky. Our knowledge has developed from mystery to a reasonable understanding of a sequence of evolutionary events, from the catastrophic to the monotonous. Observations and interpretations of events will be discussed by UTEP professor and native El Pasoan Dr. Phil Goodell, who has loved rocks ever since he was a little boy.

Reading of Tom Lea's Old Mount Franklin and selections from Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home by poet Marian Haddad

Saturday, October 15, 2011 10:00 a.m. Franklin Mountains State Park McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater 1500 McKelligon Canyon Dr. 915-533-0048 Free

Tom Lea first wrote Old Mount Franklin for a December 1951 radio broadcast and later revised it for television. The words became part of an annual ceremony when the star was lighted on the mountainside at Christmastime. Poet Marian Haddad will read Lea's classic work in the McKelligon Canyon amphitheater with Mount Franklin as the backdrop. She also will share poetry of her own, including selections from her full-length collection, Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2004) now in its fourth printing. A choice of hikes in McKelligon Canyon will be offered following the reading. Take an easy walk up an arroyo to see the crash site of a Lockheed C-40A, probably from the US Army Air Corp. Experienced climbers can do the Ron Coleman Trail. Families with young children can explore an old cave and perhaps take a peek at the other side of the mountain.

Saving Sarah: The Restoration of Tom Lea's drawing for Sarah in the Summertime and the Preservation of his Legacy at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin by Peter Mears

Thursday October 20, 2011 5:30-7:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Free

The portrait Sarah in the Summertime, completed by Tom Lea following World War II, is arguably one of the most beautiful portraits ever done. Yet by the 1990s the detailed drawing for it was brittle and rolled, dangerously close to being lost when the Harry Ransom Center prioritized it for rescue. Curator Peter Mears will share the science and engineering required to save this extraordinary work of art.

Henry C. Trost and the Gage Hotel by J.P. Bryan and Henry C. Trost and El Paso's Architecture by Morris Brown, AIA

Saturday, October 22, 2011 2:00-3:30 p.m. El Paso Museum of History 510 N. Santa Fe 915-351-3588 Free

After studying draftsmanship at Chicago's firm of Adler and Sullivan, where Frank Lloyd Wright also studied, Henry C. Trost moved to El Paso in 1904, finding his greatest inspiration designing buildings adapted to the "arid southwest." Trost and Trost established itself as the main architectural firm in the Southwest. In 1916 he built the home for Mayor Tom Lea at 1400 Nevada. In back-to-back presentations, architect Morris Brown and J.P Bryan, owner of the Trost designed Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas, will share insights into the design genius of Henry C. Trost and the impact his firm had on El Paso and the southwest.

Tom Lea and El Paso's Constellation of Artists

by J.P. Bryan, sixth-generation Texan, nephew of Stephen F. Austin, collector and historian

Sunday, October 23, 2011 2:00 p.m. El Paso Historical Society 603 W. Yandell Drive 915-533-3603 Free

Through his love of history and collecting (his Texana collection houses over 10,000 pieces), J.P. Bryan knows the extraordinary work of El Paso artists Tom Lea, Carl Hertzog, and Jose Cisneros. He will share insights into the collaborations between these men, and the remarkable results of their combined talents.

Whispering Like a Mountain: The Life Conversation of Tom Lea and J. Frank Dobie by Brandon Shuler, introduced by Dr. James Lea

Thursday, October 27, 2011 5:30-7:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Free

Tom Lea and J. Frank Dobie were close friends and giants of Texas literature and art. They enjoyed a lifetime of correspondence, resulting in hundreds of letters. Brandon Shuler, a Ph.D. candidate in literature and history at Texas Tech University, will share insights into the relationship of these two men and illuminate the reasons behind the temporary break in their friendship. Shuler will be introduced by Tom Lea's son, Jim, who has made his father's letters available for the first time.

The Literature of Tom Lea Conference

American Aficionados, Tom Lea and Ernest Hemingway by Dr. Mimi Gladstein and ~ A Texan Exile in Mexico, A Mexican Exile in Texas: Tom Lea's Advocacy of the Unbounded Identity in The Wonderful Country by Daniel Irving organized with the English Department and UTEP Library sponsored by Frances Roderick Axelson and Betty Ruth Wakefield Haley

Thursday, October 27, 2011 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The University of Texas at El Paso Library, Blumberg Auditorium. $15 for lunch; RSVP to Lydia Limas or 915-747-6720 by Oct 24

Tom Lea's two bestselling novels, The Brave Bulls (Little Brown & Company, 1949) and The Wonderful Country (Little Brown & Company, 1952) will be featured in these back-to-back presentations selected from a national Call for Papers. Gladstein will compare Hemingway's perspective on the bullfight in The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon with Lea's more interior exploration of the bullfighter and his entourage in The Brave Bulls. Daniel Irving will illuminate the fluidity of identity in Lea's character Martin Brady (aka Martin Bredi) in The Wonderful Country and probe the question of which side of the river is home to a person who identifies with two cultures, two languages and two ways of life.

The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas by Richard Koone

Saturday, October 29, 2011 2:00-3:30 p.m. El Paso Museum of History 510 N. Santa Fe 915-351-3588 Free

Originally named the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the National Museum of the Pacific War is a world-class experience with the addition of the George H.W. Bush Gallery. The museum tells the full story of the Pacific War: China, the Guadalcanal campaign, Pearl Harbor, the Doolittle Raid, Coral Sea and Midway, and Peleliu - stories that Tom Lea also told through the eye-witness accounts he painted for Life magazine. Richard Koone, education coordinator for the museum, will share the story of the Pacific War and Tom Lea's place in it. Families are welcome and can enjoy using hands-on stations including period maps, telegraph keys for Morse Code, WWII airplane spotter cards and historic photos.

For Families and Kids

Student Artists: In the Footsteps of Tom Lea Sunday, October 16, 2011 1:30-4:30 pm El Paso Museum of Archaeology 4301 Transmountain Drive 915-755-4332 Free

Just as Tom Lea loved exploring the world around him, so do Chapin High School student artists. The students will study the work of Tom Lea under the direction of art teacher Elisa Barton, creating works of their own. At a public reception these students will present their winning creations at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.

Family Workshop: Tom Lea Landscapes Sunday, October 23 1:00-4:00 pm El Paso Museum of Archaeology 4301 Transmountain Drive 915-755-4332 Free

Families will be inspired to create their own landscapes just as Tom Lea did. The Franklin Mountains, with their dramatic canyons, jagged peaks, and ever-changing light, are a stunning backdrop to the Museum of Archaeology. Participants can imagine the landscape as it was in prehistoric times - and how the ancients lived. With professional staff to help, each family will create a landscape collage populated with Chihuahuan Desert plants, animals and people, then share their landscapes with each other. Maximum number of participants is 25, with a mixture of children and adults.

Stories for Children at the El Paso Public Library

During Tom Lea Month, librarians at El Paso Library branches will select books and crafts with Southwestern themes that children will enjoy. Visit the library's website at ~ archive/2011/news100111.asp for a full schedule.


Sketch in the Gallery Saturday, October 8, 22 & 29 1:00-3:00 p.m. El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Experience the act of sketching in the Tom Lea Gallery with a professional artist as your guide. Let the many different styles of Lea's work inspire you to draw your own masterwork. Registered students will receive one complimentary sketchpad and pencil set, while supplies last, courtesy of the El Paso Museum of Art Tom Lea Endowment Fund.




Tom Lea
July 11, 1907 - January 28, 2001

Tom Lea was born in El Paso, Texas on July 11, 1907 to a frontier lawyer and his wife, Tom and Zola Utt Lea. Tom Lea Sr. was mayor of El Paso from 1915-1917 during the stormy years of the Mexican Revolution.

Tom Lea Jr. attended public schools in El Paso from 1912-1924 and, through his art teacher, learned about the Art Institute of Chicago and the noted muralist, John Warner Norton, who taught there. Lea attended the Art Institute from 1924-1926, studying briefly under Norton and becoming his apprentice.

From 1926-1933, Lea worked as a mural painter and commercial artist in Chicago and married fellow art student, Nancy Taylor. He earned enough money to travel third class to Europe in 1930, studying masters like Eugene Delacroix in Paris and Piero della Francesca and Luca Signorelli in Italy. Upon returning to Chicago, he continued work for Norton, leaving in 1933 for the place he loved visiting as a boy, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.

In Santa Fe, Tom Lea worked for the Laboratory of Anthro-pology, did illustrations for Santa Fe Magazine and worked briefly for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). After Nancy Lea suffered a botched appendectomy, the Leas returned to El Paso where Nancy died in 1936.

Living back home, Tom Lea completed murals for the Texas Centennial celebration and for the Branigan Library in Las Cruces. He competed for government projects under the U.S. Treasury Department, Section of Fine Arts and won competitions for murals across the United States including the Benjamin Franklin Post Office, Washington, D.C.; Federal Building, El Paso, Texas; Burlington Railroad Station, Lacrosse, Wisconsin; Post Office, Pleasant Hill, Missouri; Post Office, Odessa, Texas; and, Post Office, Seymour, Texas.

In 1938 he met and married Sarah Dighton, who became his lifelong partner. He met the typographer and book designer Carl Hertzog while working in his El Paso studio, as well as the noted Texas writer, J. Frank Dobie. These friendships led to numerous collaborative projects, and Lea illustrated Dobie's books Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver and The Longhorns. In 1940 Tom Lea applied for and won a Rosenwald Fellowship, but declined it after receiving an invitation from the Editorial Staff of Life Magazine to become an Accredited War Artist-Correspondent.

From 1941-1946, Tom Lea became an eye-witness reporter for Life, traveling over 100,000 miles to theatres of war where American forces were involved, including the North Atlantic, on board the Hornet in the South Pacific, a trip to China where he met Theodore H. White, and landing on Peleliu.

His writing and painting appeared in Life Magazine between April, 1942 and July, 1945. Lea's experience of landing with the first assault wave of the First Marines on Peleliu became a book which he wrote and illustrated entitled Peleliu Landing (1945). Following the war, Lea painted Sarah in the Summertime, based on a snapshot he carried in his wallet the entire time he was away. It was "a painter's votive offering made in the gladness of being home" and, at the end of his life, Lea considered it his magnum opus.

A final project for Life depicting the history of beef cattle in the Americas, led Tom Lea to Mexico where he became fascinated with black fighting bulls. The artist turned to writing, and his first novel, The Brave Bulls (1949), became a bestseller and movie starring Mel Ferrer. Other works of fiction and history followed, including The Wonderful Country (1952), a best seller and movie starring Robert Mitchum; The King Ranch (1957) an annotated history of the mammoth South Texas Ranch; The Primal Yoke (1960), a mountaineering story set in Wyoming; The Hands of Cantu (1964), an account of horse training in 16th- century Nueva Viscaya; A Picture Gallery (1968), his autobiography; and, In the Crucible in the Sun (1974), about King Ranch properties in Australia.

During his lifetime, Tom Lea took pleasure in capturing portrait likenesses. He started with friends in El Paso and, when he went to war, drew well known subjects like Jimmy Doolittle, Claire Chennault, Berndt Balchen and Madame and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Lea reserved portraiture for his own pleasure, turning down offers of commissions. Lea wrote that "I select my subjects, they don't select me." Twice he made an exception to his rule, painting Benito Juarez 1948 and Sam Rayburn in 1966. Both portraits hang in public buildings in Washington, D.C.

The last mural Tom Lea completed was for the El Paso Public Library in 1956. Entitled Southwest, the painting was done as a gift for the citizens of El Paso by the artist, assisted by his wife Sarah. Lea's later years were devoted to the easel picture, in oil, watercolor, casein tempera, pastel and Chinese ink with the predominant subject landscape. Requests would come, resulting in paintings like Ranger Escort West of the Pecos for the office of Governor John Connally; or The First Recorded Surgical Operation in North America: Cabeza de Vaca, 1535 completed for the Moody Medical Library, U.T. Medical Branch, Galveston. While these paintings hang in public buildings, almost all of Lea's work was delivered directly from his studio into the private collections of personal friends.

The first dinner given by Governor and Mrs. George W. Bush in the Texas Governor's Mansion was to honor Tom Lea. The Governor read from Tom Lea, An Oral History, recorded by Adair Margo, for friends that included Mrs. John Connally, Lady Bird Johnson, and the Kleberg family of the King Ranch. When accepting the nomination for President of the United States in 2000, George W. Bush quoted Tom Lea about living on the "sunrise side of the mountain, " and, after his election, he made it known that a Tom Lea painting would hang in the Oval Office.

Tom Lea died on January 29, 2001 following a fall at home. Laura Bush traveled to El Paso for the memorial service, the first trip she made as First Lady of the United States. While in El Paso, she requested the loan of Tom Lea's painting, Rio Grande, from the El Paso Museum of Art to hang in the Oval Office.

More artwork

More artwork (09/11 Gazette article)


An El Paso Constellation: Tom Lea and His Contemporaries organized by C.L. Sonnichsen, Special Collections Department October 3, 2011-November 30, 2011 Opening Reception~ Friday, October 7, 2011 4:00 p.m. The University of Texas at El Paso Library, Fourth Floor Gallery. Free.

An exhibit featuring books, manuscripts and photographs of Tom Lea and his friends and contemporaries in El Paso, including Urbici Soler, Jose Cisneros, Maud Durlin Sullivan, Carl Hertzog, and C.E. Waterhouse.

Tom Lea: The Turning Point, 1966 Tom Lea Gallery El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Hours: Tues-Sat 9-5 pm.; Thurs 9 am-9 pm.; Sun 12 noon-5 pm. Closed Mondays & holidays. September 4, 2011 - January 8, 2012

Gallery Talk by Adair Margo and Billy Stevens Sunday, October 30, 2011 2:00 p.m.

In 1965, the University of Texas at El Paso (Texas Western College) football team had won four games and lost three, placing it at a pivotal point in its season. The team trailed 13-19 when it took over the ball on its own eight-yard line with 16 seconds to go. The Miners set up a play that scored them seven points after the clock had run out, giving them a 20-19 victory. The team won the rest of their games that season and edged a powerful Texas Christian University team 13-12 in the December 31 Sun Bowl. Tom Lea was commissioned to commemorate the historic game and researched it thoroughly, having the players rerun the play in uniform and interviewing each one. The exhibition will include drawings and the final 31 x 42 inch oil painting on loan from the University of Texas at El Paso Larry Durham Center.

Sketchbook from USS Hornet and U.S.S. Grouper in the Coral Sea, 1942

Tom Lea Gallery El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Hours: Tues-Sat 9-5 pm.; Thurs 9 am-9 pm.; Sun 12 noon-5 pm. Closed Mondays & holidays. October 1-30, 2011

Tom Lea was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the Coral Sea for two months during the summer of 1942, just after the Battle of Midway. He witnessed the torpedoing of the USS Wasp from its deck, recording what he saw with pen, ink and pencil. This rare sketchbook contains drawings done on board the Hornet and the submarine USS Grouper. When Lea could not bring himself to sell the sketchbook to a collector in 1997, saying it was like "selling my soul," a group of friends pitched in to buy it for the El Paso Museum of Art.

The Left Handed Buffalo Hunter, 1937

Gift of Billie Ruth Ritter Simpson, Mesilla, New Mexico Tom Lea Gallery, New Acquisitions Wall El Paso Museum of Art 1 Arts Festival Plaza 915-532-1707 Hours: Tues-Sat 9-5 pm.; Thurs 9 am-9 pm.; Sun 12 noon-5 pm. Closed Mondays & holidays. October 1-30, 2011 Tom Lea competed in 1937 to paint the murals at the San Antonio Post Office, creating five designs. Lea took one detail and made a painting to the scale it would be on the post office wall. (Tom Lea was left handed, which indicates he placed himself in the role of the Buffalo Hunter.) After Lea lost the competition, he gave the painting to his brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Marjorie Lea, who lived in Mesilla, New Mexico. Their neighbors, Billie Ruth and John Barnes Ritter, kept the painting while Joe served World War II. The Ritters grew so attached to it that after the war they asked to buy it. The painting remained in the Ritter home until Billie Ruth's death in 2010.

Nine Tom Lea Paintings from the Peggy and W.E. Wilcox Collection

September 30-December 30, 2011 Opening reception Friday, September 30, 2011 12 noon-1:30 p.m. Tom Lea Institute at the Mills Building Promenade 123 West Mills 915-533-0048 Hours: Mon-Fri, 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Free

Before his death in 2001 at the age of 93, Tom Lea told Adair Margo, Tom Lea Institute founder and his oral biographer, that he was pleased that his paintings were in the homes of friends, "as a kind of conversation between me and my friends." Through the generosity of David and John Wilcox, owners/heirs of the Peggy & W.E. Wilcox Collection, nine previously unseen works of Lea's art will be experienced for the first time, including one of Lea's most iconic paintings, Sabbath Afternoon (1969). Others include Pay Day (1961); World's Far Edge (1975); Sentinel (1976); and studies for Word in the Night (1961).

Papers relating to Tom Lea's The Wonderful Country including a 23" x 25" map drawn during the writing of the book

October 1-31, 2011 El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun noon-6 p.m. Free

Tom Lea was known for extensive research in the writing of his novels, including developing a biography for each character based on history and drawing maps to situate the story. The Wonderful Country is set in "Puerto" on the U.S./Mexican border just after the Civil War. It became a bestseller in 1952 and was turned into a motion picture starring Robert Mitchum and Julie London.

Photos of Tom Lea's Southwest Mural, Then and Now October 1-31, 2011 El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun noon-6 p.m. Free

After the citizens of El Paso passed a municipal bond election in 1951 to build a new public library, Carroll and Daeuble were selected as local architects. The original design included The Southwest Room with bookcase ends carved by Jose Cisneros; a faithful copy of a Spanish table and chairs made by Stan Stoefen; and a mural painted by Tom Lea with his wife, Sarah, who acted as assistant. Southwest was conceived as "a luminous window" looking out on an elemental desert landscape, occupied only by the viewer's mind. The mural was moved to the new entrance in 2006 when the library was expanded. This exhibit will show photos of the making of the mural and how it looked, then and now. The original paint chart with the artist's colors will also be on display.


The Brave Bulls (1951) Main Library Auditorium Saturday, October 1, 2011 12 noon El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Free

Written by Tom Lea and directed by two-time Oscar winner Robert Rosson of Columbia Pictures, this film stars Mel Ferrer, Miroslava and Anthony Quinn. Ferrer plays a matador who is an idol to the crowds, an image carefully cultivated by his manager. The world premier of the film took place at the Plaza Theatre in downtown El Paso on April 18, 1951.

The Wonderful Country (1959) Main Library Auditorium Saturday, October 22, 2011 12 noon El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Free

Based on the novel by Tom Lea, the movie captures the spirit and history of the El Paso region following the Civil War. It was directed by Tom Lea's friend, Robert Parrish, and starred Robert Mitchum and Julie London. Although Lea never received payment for the use of his novel, he was paid for appearing briefly on screen as Peebles, the barber. The film debuted at the Plaza Theatre in downtown El Paso on October 21, 1959.

Tom Lea's El Paso by Capstone Productions (2010) Main Library Auditorium

Saturday, October 29, 2011 1:00 p.m. El Paso Public Library, Main (Downtown) Library 501 North Oregon 915 543 5433 Free

This documentary is a rare conversation with native El Pasoan Tom Lea, recorded in January 2000 - a year before he died. He tells personal stories of growing up in El Paso during the turbulent years of the Mexican Revolution when his father was mayor. Pancho Villa put a price on his father's head and threatened to kidnap his young sons. Lea recalls meeting General John Pershing, seeing cannon fire blocks from his home, and watching through a telescope as a man was shot in Juárez. Produced by Jackson H. Polk, introduced by Laura Bush, and hosted by Adair Margo, the documentary is illustrated with historic photos from the 1910s and 1920s.

On Your Own

Discover Tom Lea's Artwork, Murals and Designs

El Paso:

Bank of the West, 500 N. Mesa Great River of the North, 1982, oil on canvas, 58" x 45" (lobby)

El Paso Public Library, 501 N. Oregon Southwest, 1957, oil on canvas mural, 5-1/2 x 20 feet (main entrance) Owl and Honeybee, 1953, stone relief (east exterior wall) XII Travelers Through the Pass of the North, 1946, 12 illustrations (Borderland Heritage Center)

El Paso International Museum of Art, 1211 Montana Avenue Pasaron Por Aqui, lintel design (over Brown Street entrance)

The Centennial Museum, UTEP Campus, University and Wiggins Cabeza de Vaca, 1937, lintel design (over entrance)

El Paso Museum of Art, One Arts Festival Plaza Tom Lea Gallery, selections from the permanent collection

UTEP Library Who Came to Stay, 1984, oil on canvas (3rd Floor)

Las Cruces:

Branigan Cultural Center, 501 North Main Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 575 541 2155 A Franciscan Friar Showing a Book to Indians in the 17th Century, 1935, oil on canvas mural

New Mexico State University Library Conquistadors, 1934, oil on canvas mural, and Old Mesilla, 1934, oil on canvas mural

Discover the Art of these El Paso artists:

Jose Cisneros, illustrator and National Humanities medalist - Riders Across the Centuries, Horsemen of the Spanish Borderlands

Urbici Soler, creator of the Risen Christ on Mount Cristo Rey - Portrait busts in the El Paso Public Library (Borderland Heritage Center) and International Museum of Art

John Houser, creator of The Equestrian (Don Juan de Oñate) at the El Paso International Airport - Statue of Fray Garcia de San Francisco in Pioneer Plaza with photographs of its making by Jody Polk Schwartz

Discover the natural and architectural beauty of El Paso: "Archtober" is a series of tours and talks that highlight El Paso's distinctive, historic buildings.

Celebrating Our Mountains explores the natural wonders of the Borderland.



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