About The Tom Lea Institute
Sharing the art and literature of a great american
THE TOM LEA INSTITUTE
-[Tom Lea] converses, not from the superior perspective of an "artist" whose calling is to share his personal "vision" for posterity, but as an honest craftsman whose passion is to observe and describe.-
Adair Margo, Tom Lea An Oral History, 1995
The Tom Lea Institute is an organization dedicated to enlivening the legacy of El Paso's native son, Tom Lea. Under the direction of Adair Margo, former Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities during the two-term Presidency of George W. Bush, the Institute was formalized in 2009. Its history, however, dates back to a life-long friendship between the artist and Adair Margo who exhibited much of Lea's artwork in her El Paso gallery. Margo's appreciation for Tom Lea grew even deeper in 1993 when she was given the opportunity to record Lea's oral history, learning about his life and discovering a true Renaissance man. It was Margo's vision that led to the establishment of an Institute committed to enriching the lives of others through his art, literature and example.
Since 2009, The Tom Lea Institute has created a growing membership, reaching audiences nationwide. Its annual sponsorship of Tom Lea Month has inspired the creation of educational programming for children, students and adults and has established strong partnerships with other institutions such as the El Paso Museum of Art, The University of Texas at El Paso, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. In 2013, the Institute launched the Tom Lea Trail, the first artist trail in the state, connecting the regional history of eleven Texas cities through the presence of Tom Lea's art and writing. The Institute is committed to developing new audiences and strengthening existing relationships with art, education, history and literary constituencies through these efforts.