On May 18, Humanities Texas hosted a special presentation by Adair Margo, the founding director of the Tom Lea Institute. Her talk, “Tom Lea, Genius of the Twentieth Century,” attracted a capacity audience to the Byrne-Reed House, including a number of guests from Lea’s hometown of El Paso.

Margo, the former chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and a former Humanities Texas board member, discussed Lea’s substantial contributions to twentieth-century arts and letters as a muralist, illustrator, war correspondent, portraitist, novelist, historian, and easel painter. She described the artist’s inspirations, including the dramatic landscape of the desert Southwest, the patterns on indigenous pottery, and the region’s history.

A special exhibition of nine original paintings and drawings by Tom Lea accompanied the lecture. Lenders to the exhibition included Bill and Ann Kiely, Ambassador Pam Willeford, the Torch Energy Collection courtesy of J. P. Bryan, and Michael and LeAnn Gillette.

The lecture and exhibition anticipate a forthcoming traveling exhibition on the life and art of Tom Lea, which will be a collaboration of the Tom Lea Institute, Humanities Texas, and the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ann and Bill Kiely, Pam Willeford, and Adair Margo. The painting in the upper left corner is A Quiet Place (1961), on loan from the Kielys' private collection. All photos on this page by Humanities Texas.
Guests admire Tom Lea's work in the dining room of the Byrne-Reed House.
Adair Margo speaking in the Julius and Suzan Glickman Room.
Tom Lea Institute board members Pam Willeford and Anne Sewell Johnson and founding director Adair Margo.
Guests admiring Lea's work in the gallery of the Byrne-Reed House.
Adair Margo with Jill and Stephen Wilkinson.
Tom and Julia Hussman and Ann and Sonny Brown.
Exhibition curators Lindsey Wall, HTX exhibitions coordinator, and Melissa J. Huber, HTX director of exhibitions, stand next to Rumbo.