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Each year, the Tom Lea Institute brings fun and interesting events to life
for the community and those along the Tom Lea Trail – all centered around
a central theme inspired by Tom Lea and his works. 

RSVP    THROUGH EventBrite links below

full schedule of events:


In 1918, when Tom Lea was an 11-year-old boy, the Texas School of Mines and Metallurgy (UTEP) was constructed in the Bhutanese style. He grew to love the thick-walled campus of UTEP and commemorated some of its significant milestones with his art in 1936, 1965, and 1984. While in Providence Memorial Hospital for heart trouble, he sketched UTEP’s layout, giving the sketch to his cardiologist as a memento. Today the finished casein tempera is displayed in the office of UTEP President Heather Wilson and will be on view in the Centennial Museum as part of this tour. Be captivated by Lea’s work alongside other artists such as Peter Hurd, Sebastian, Salvador Lopez, Diego Medina, José Cisneros, Urbici Soler, and Carl Hertzog. The tour will end on the balcony of the Library’s Special Collections, where we’ll enjoy spectacular sunset views of Paso del Norte with the Juárez Mountains and Mount Cristo Rey sharp against the sky. 

500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968


A captivating presentation that explores the relationship between Tom Lea and fellow artist José Aceves, who also entered the New Deal competition for the El Paso Federal Courthouse mural that Tom Lea won in 1937. Though Aceves lost the competition, he persevered and worked hard, helping Tom Lea adhere the canvas to the wall where Lea painted his Pass of the North mural. Dr. Miguel Juárez, UTEP History, Humanities and Women’s Studies lecturer, delves into Aceves’ contributions to the arts in the Southwest and sheds light on his association with Tom Lea. A Mexican celebration with ballet folklorico will follow.

UTEP CENTENNIAL MUSEUM • 500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968

Join us in learning about the First Recorded Surgical Operation in North America at the first medical school on the US/Mexican border.  Dr. Alan Tyroch, founding chair of surgery and trauma medical director, will explore Cabeza de Vaca’s journey as recorded in La Relación. Cabeza de Vaca was one of Tom Lea’s recurring characters. For the 50th anniversary of the Texas Surgical Society in 1965,
he created a sketch that can be found in the lobby of Medical Sciences Building II on the TTUHSC
El Paso campus, gifted by El Paso plastic surgeon Ronald Gum and his wife, Mary Ann. The ink wash painting is on display at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the drawing at the Medical Sciences Building II. Dean Jeanne Novotney believed in the nobility and determination of Lea’s historic heroes, which helps inspire nursing students today. See the archetypes of El Paso history from Tom’s 1938 Pass of the North mural in the lobby of the Nursing Building on the TTUHSC El Paso campus. Dean Stephanie Woods and President Rick Lange will join us for wine and Native American light bites afterward, celebrating TTUHSC El Paso's inclusion on the Tom Lea Trail.

137 Rick Francis St
., El Paso, TX 79905

Parking information

Tom Lea designed the logo for Texas A&M Press in 1974 at the request of press founder Frank Wardlaw. Influenced by his time in China during World War II, Tom Lea designed a pictogram for Texas A&M Press that communicates its beginnings as a land-grant (1876) and sea-grant (1971) university. Today the university holds the triple designation of a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, one of 24 in the nation.  The press is the primary publisher of books about Tom Lea, including The Art of Tom Lea and Tom Lea’s World War II.  While visiting Texas A&M Press, visitors will see the Frank Wardlaw collection of art and original Tom Lea drawings. Dr. Jay Dew, director at Texas A&M University Press, will offer remarks on the relationship between Lea and Texas A&M Press while we enjoy refreshments.

TEXAS A&M PRESS OPEN HOUSE  • 4354 Lewis St., College Station, TX 77843

The architectural firm Carroll and Daeuble designed new wings for the Turney Mansion, which accommodated the Kress Collection for the El Paso Museum of Art in 1960. The east wing provided a lower, outside entrance to art classrooms and a theater for children.  Tom Lea designed a lintel for the stairwell door. For his design he chose three types of headdresses and the words “PASARON POR AQUI.” The words are similar to his Pass of the North mural which represents the diverse cultures that came through El Paso. Join us for a presentation by The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tigua Natives) about the significance of the warbonnet and a traditional dance by the Social Dance Group. 

INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART • 1211 Montana Ave., El Paso, TX 79902

Dr. Dominic Dousa, professor of music at UTEP and a new Tom Lea Fellow recipient, will present an evening filled with original chamber music. Three Tom Lea paintings – Altar of the Earth, Comanches, and Franciscan Friar Showing a Book to the Indians – provided the inspiration for the composition as they evoke the spirit of the landscape and narratives about the American Southwest.  The chamber ensemble will capture the varying energy of each work. After the performance, join an uplifting discussion with Dr. Dousa and the musicians over appetizers. This is an event you won’t want to miss!

UTEP GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES BUILDING • 591 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968

Anchor 2

In anticipation of a new El Paso Museum of Art downtown, a statewide campaign was held in 1997 to name the Tom Lea Gallery, bringing Tom Lea’s artwork home to El Paso. Tom Lea Gallery offers visitors an opportunity to experience his work within the context of art from his native Southwest.  Artworks ranging from illustrations, sketches, print works, portraits, and landscapes are among the 90 works of art given. The painting of Rio Grande was included, which was loaned to the White House for eight years, as well as a World War II sketchbook from aboard the USS Hornet before it was sunk. Three works are exhibited at any one time and rotated biannually.  EPMA’s assistant curator will lead the tour beginning in the museum lobby.

EL PASO MUSEUM OF ART • 1 Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901


Experience different decades of music and art at the El Paso Museum of History. Dr. Nayeli Dousa, professor of music at UTEP and another Tom Lea Fellow recipient, has paired the music of three different eras with Tom Lea’s artworks, capturing something of each era. Tom Lea’s art is renowned for its connection to the American Southwest and includes his Pass of the North mural (1938); Sarah in the Summertime (1947), and Southwest mural (1956). While playing the piano, Dr. Dousa will be accompanied by vocalist José Mario Sanchez Soledad.  Join a festive reception afterward.

EL PASO MUSEUM OF HISTORY • 510 N. Santa Fe St., El Paso, TX 79901

Tom Lea’s 1940 Stampede mural is a masterpiece of the New Deal era, a time when art lifted the spirits of the American people during difficult times. Originally installed high over the stamp windows at the Odessa Post Office, Tom based the scene on the cowboy poem Little Joe the Wrangler, bringing regional history to life. After the mural was moved to a wall in a 24-hour facility and was severely damaged, Odessans came together to save it. They struck a deal with the U.S. Postal Service in 2014 to restore the painting and move it into the Ellen Noel Museum. Join Phillip Parisi, author of Texas Post Office Murals, on a journey around the state. He will discuss the themes and significance of WPA murals and how fortunate communities are to have them. Light bites and conversation follow the presentation.

MUSEUM OF THE SOUTHWEST  • 1705 W. Missouri Ave., Midland, TX 79701


Established by Dee and Adair Margo in 2013 to advance the understanding of Tom Lea’s art and writing, the Tom Lea fellowship is offered annually to UTEP students and faculty.  After studying Tom Lea’s paintings and murals of authentic southwestern characters and landscapes,  MFA candidate Zazil Collins will present Tom Lea, an Ecopoetic Vision in prose and poetry.  Eric Chavez, a Ph.D. candidate conducting research in the National Archives, will follow by sharing his observations. He will discuss how Tom Lea’s murals relate culturally and politically to different waves of muralism.  After the presentations, join the speakers for a lively discussion and reception. 

THE RUBIN CENTER  •  500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968


Step into the Oval Office to see Tom Lea’s Rio Grande – the painting President George W. Bush pointed to when quoting the artist about living on the “sunrise side of the mountain.” Learn how a painting about far West Texas belonging to Dallasites Robert and Maureen Decherd came to be displayed in the most powerful place in the world – the Oval Office, a room President Bush wanted to be filled with light and optimism.  Join Adair Margo, founder of the Tom Lea Institute, who served President Bush as chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, as she shares deeper meanings to be found in Tom Lea’s work. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the Bush Center after hours while celebrating its inclusion on the Tom Lea Trail. 

GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM • 2943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75205


The spectacular Hall of State, built for the Texas Centennial in 1936, boasts two Tom Lea murals in its West Texas Room, now the Dealey Library.  One mural shows a pioneer family coming to settle the land, and the other depicts a lanky cowboy with the lasso in hand, possessing an unpretentious grandeur. Luciano Cheles, an Italian Renaissance scholar, commented that they are almost “holy.” Might it be that the arcs over the family in the covered wagon reference the vaulted ceiling of a church?  Or could it be that the light surrounding the cowboy alludes to a halo?  Join a young champion roper, along with David Lee, curator and Kaitlyn Price, education, from The Hall of State for an afternoon of inspiration.

HALL OF STATE • 3939 Grand Ave., Dallas, TX 75210


In 1968, Tom Lea described in A Picture Gallery how fortunate he was to be born on the border “where two nations and two peoples meet, where more than one mode of life and one mode of thought are in constant confrontation to test and to broaden and to deepen one’s view of the world.”  For this year’s I Love El Paso event, we’ll hear from a couple at the center of bi-national relationships – the Consul General of Mexico in El Paso, Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León, and his wife, Kathy Towle.  Holly Cobb, Executive Director of the Tom Lea Institute, will interview them and gain up-close and personal insights about how this extraordinary and beloved couple navigates marriage, family, and a high-pressure career.  Join us for a fun, informative evening with wine, traditional Mexican light bites, and music.

CONSULATE OF MEXICO • 910 E. San Antonio Ave., El Paso, TX 79901

Deep in the brush country of South Texas lie the ruins of the old horse ranch called Rancho Randado, where splendid Spanish horses were once bred.  Tom Lea’s visit to the 1767 site with J. Frank Dobie stirred feelings he knew could not be reached by paint on canvas, but had to be expressed in words.  All that remained in 1940 were a handful of residents, the bodega, the beautiful historic San Rafael Chapel, the cemetery, and the owner’s ranch house. Tom had his glimpse into the joys and sorrows of trying to speak from the heart on a piece of paper. The Jim Hogg County Old Jail Museum will open “Tom Lea’s Randado,” a site along the Tom Lea Trail, where guests will enjoy honored speakers, South Texas refreshments, and a rare guided tour of Rancho Randado by its owner. 

105 E. Santa Clara St., Hebbronville, TX 78361

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is the proud owner of three original Tom Lea works. The paintings are: A Little Shade, Yonder’s Fort Fisher, and Here’s a Recruit, the drawing for Captain James B. Gillett. The drawing is from his Ranger Escort West of the Pecos painting, found in the Texas State Capitol. One of the books in Tom Lea’s father’s den was Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875 to 1881, by “Ex-Sergeant” Captain Gillett, from Company “A.” Frontier Battalion, which was the influence for his bestselling novel The Wonderful Country.  The museum brings the lives of the Texas Rangers to life through its large collection of badges, firearms, tack, and personal gear, some items dating back to the 1850s. Join Bob Alexander, the award-winning author of more than 18 books, for an illuminating talk about the inspiration for the paintings and a western-themed reception.

TEXAS RANGER HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM • 100 Texas Ranger Trail, Waco, TX 76706

Seymour, Texas, is yet another place where visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating world of Tom Lea. Feel inspired by the bustling streets of historic towns and see the awe-inspiring landscapes he painted.  The Heritage Tradeshow will present skills and artistry such as blacksmithing, woodworking, weaving, and more. Engage with the artisans, learn their stories, and witness first-hand the magic that goes into creating timeless masterpieces. Janice Thornhill, director of Baylor County Museum, will tell the story of before the Red River Revolt. The time is represented in Lea’s mural Comanches, which was painted for the Seymour Post Office in 1941. Learn about the lives of the Comanches through the musical sounds of drumbeats and Native dancers. 

U.S. POST OFFICE • 210 N. Washington St., Seymour, TX 76380


past brochures HERE

become a sponsor

We invite you to be a part of sponsorship and marketing opportunities for Tom Lea Month.

Build brand loyalty, attract new customers, preserve iconic art in the region, and transmit pride of place to the next generation. 

We rely on grants and donors just like you to keep the mission of the Tom Lea Institute alive, thank you in advance for your support and providence! 

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