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Tom Lea celebrated in October

Written by , published October 2, 2014

Tom-Lea-Mural07Celebrate the life of iconic Texas artist Tom Lea this October with a month of activities dedicated to his work and legacy, hosted by the Tom Lea Institute in El Paso.  

Tom Lea, an esteemed painter, muralist, and writer born in El Paso in 1907, was most famous for his works featuring the people and scenery of Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest. In addition to his murals on the walls of public buildings all over the country, Lea is also known for his work as a correspondent for Life magazine during World War II, including his iconic painting of an American soldier, "That 2000 Yard Stare."

Lea died in 2001, but the El Paso-based Tom Lea Institute carries on his memory by sponsoring preservation of his work and hosting events like Tom Lea Month each October, which features presentations about Lea’s life and art. Texas Highways has covered Lea extensively in recent years, including the articles "On the Trail of Tom Lea," and "My Lunch with Tom Lea."

This year, the institute plans a series of events at museums and universities around the state with art history scholar Luciano Cheles, who will present comparisons between Lea’s work and the historical murals of the Italian Renaissance. Cheles will detail how the work of Italian muralists like Piero della Francesca influenced the figures depicted in Lea’s murals and paintings.

Cheles and the Tom Lea Institute will host programs at the University of Texas at El Paso on Oct. 7; the Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permian Basin on Oct. 10; the Whiteside Center for Performing Arts in the City Hall building in Seymour on Oct. 13; and the Texas Spirit Theatre of the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Oct. 15.

On Sept. 24, the Tom Lea Institute will co-host a conference with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The event spotlights the importance of preserving iconic Depression-era murals across the country, using Tom Lea’s murals as a case study. Cheles will appear as a speaker, alongside a lineup of art scholars, museum curators, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.  

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