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.