All events listed by venue and are free unless otherwise indicated.

Meet the Presenters
Meet the Sponsors
Events at a Glance
2016 Brochure


In Remembrance of Nancy Lea

Centennial Museum

University of Texas at El Paso 500 W. University
Avenue, El Paso, Texas
915 747-5565

The Notebook of Nancy Lea
Exhibition on View
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 – Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2016
Opening Reception Tuesday, Oct. 11th ∙ 5:30 p.m.

Nancy Lea in Her Own Words
Presentation by Adair Margo
Sunday, Nov. 20 ∙ 1 p.m.

After Nancy Lea died in El Paso on April 1, 1936, she
was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. On her death
certi cate, in the space left for her occupation, it read
“housewife.” This is the rst exhibition to ever tell the story
of Nancy Lea, revealing a woman of extraordinary talent
and perception, who wrote with a philosopher’s pen.
Included in the exhibition are the rare Carl Hertzog copy
of The NOTEBOOK OF NANCY LEA from the C.L.
Sonnichsen Special Collections Department in the
UTEP Library, and never-before-seen photographs
of Nancy Lea.

Philanthropy Theater

Plaza Theater Annex, 125 Pioneer Plaza,
El Paso, Texas
915 533-0048

Tom Lea: Grace Note in a Hard World
A one-act play by Camilla Carr
Starring Ray Baker and Morgana Shaw
Saturday, October 29  7 p.m.
Sunday, October 30  3p.m.
Admission $25.00. Tickets available at the Tom Lea
Institute. Reservations with Paola Martinez at pmartinez or call 915-533-0048.

Commissioned by Betty Ruth Wakefield Haley for the Tom
Lea Institute, the one act play by Camilla Carr dramatizes
the early life of El Paso native, Tom Lea. Based on the
book Tom Lea, An Oral History by Adair Margo, the
performance focuses on Lea’s early life as the mayor’s
son, his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and
apprenticeship to muralist John Norton, and his marriage
to fellow art student Nancy Taylor. Stage, lm and
television stars Ray Baker and Morgana Shaw star as Tom
and Nancy Lea. Morgana Shaw reads from the newly
released book The NOTEBOOK OF NANCY LEA.

The Bryan Museum

1315 21st Street, Galveston, Texas
409 632-7685

Nancy Lea's Art and Writing
Exhibition on View
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 – Saturday, Dec. 30, 2016
Open Friday through Monday
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
To commemorate the publication of The NOTEBOOK OF NANCY LEA, the Bryan Museum exhibits never-before-seen items from its Nancy Lea Collection

Dramatic Reading by Morgana Shaw
Tuesday, Nov. 1  6 p.m.
For more information contact Carolina Franco
at or call 915 533-0048

Events in El Paso

Head for the Hills
Fiesta and Live Exhibition
W.S. Hills Building
110 Texas Ave. El Paso, TX 79901

Saturday, Oct. 1   7p.m. - 12a.m.
Admission $100.00. Tickets available at the Tom Lea Institute.
Reservations with Carolina Franco at or 915 533-0048

Head for the Hills pays homage to the artists that have given us an understanding of what it means to be from El Paso del Norte. We will celebrate with music from Frontera Bugalu, fashion by Zayra Estrada, live arts by local artists including Los Dos and Matthew Poe, all in one of the most beautiful buildings downtown has to offer – soon to be a hub for the arts and heritage tourism. Keynote presentation by J.P. Bryan, renown architectural conservationist and patron of our region’s cultural traditions. We invite you to join us in this fundraising endeavor – benetting the Tom Lea Institute, Texas Trost Society, and Amor por Juarez – as we work together to unite the region’s creative industries!

“I cherish, beyond power of words or pictures, the exact place where I observe daily the miracle of light and of life around me. I take pleasure in being able to tell you exactly, even when not asked, the precise terrestrial position of the house and headquarters for work where Sarah and I live. We’re at 31degrees, 47 minutes, 30 seconds North latitude and 106 degrees, 27 minutes and 30 seconds longitude West of the Greenwich meridian-with the great space of all the world for studio walls and the whole vault of the heavens for skylight. It's a very good location. And I am a singularly fortunate man, doing work I love so much, at the place I love so much, midst the people I love so much.” -Tom Lea


The Hands of Cantú: Horsemanship at the Pass of the North

Presentations by Dr. Melissa Warak & John Hamilton
Compadres Therapy Inc.
6666 Morrill Rd. El Paso, Texas 915 203 - 0885

Saturday, Oct. 15   9 a.m. - 3p.m

Tom Lea's 1964 novel, The Hands of Cantú, tells the tale of an orphaned Spanish youth learning the art of horsemanship in the New World. Lea's illustrations for the book and the precision of his language in describing horse training techniques, emphasize his respect for the intelligence, majesty and physical strength of the horse.

Compadres Therapy, Inc. is a non-profit organization located in El Paso's Upper Valley, which provides equine facilitated activities and therapies to persons with special needs and individuals who will benefit from the experience of the human-animal bond. This horse-themed event is a day for the entire family, with activities and demonstrations that will include Western Dressage, Jumping, Adapted Riding, Hippotherapy and more!


Experience the Pass of the North Mural Tour
Hosted by El Paso Electric
Led by Elisa Garrido and Carolina Franco
Meet at the Tom Lea Institute
201 E. Main Suite 100, El Paso, TX 79901
R.S.V.P. to Elisa Garrido at or call 915 533-0048

Tuesday, Oct. 11   12 p.m.

Tom Lea’s 1938 Pass of the North mural has inspired generations by its depiction of the giants of El Paso’s history. The mural space measures 11 x 52 feet and was painted in oil on canvas. Tom consulted more than 30 volumes and found appropriate models who posed for him in the desert while wearing authentic costumes. Recognized as “the finest mural of the period,” it continues to encourage an appreciation of El Paso’s multi-cultural richness. The tour includes Tom Lea’s Pass of the North mural inside El Paso’s Historic Federal Courthouse, Our History by Carlos Callejo at the County Courthouse, and A Day in El Paso by John Valadez at the R.C. White Federal Building.

“The studio I had in downtown El Paso was on the second floor of the Hills Building, over Norton Brothers’ bookstore and the Guarantee Shoe Company... The room had a fine north light and space enough for painting murals as well as easel pictures. I did a lot of work there… The job I worked on the hardest, and learned the most while doing, and took the most pleasure in doing was the ‘Pass of the North’ mural for the Federal Courthouse in El Paso.” - Tom Lea, A Picture Gallery, 1968.

Female Portraits: A Connection between Artists and Models Exhibition on View
El Paso Museum of Art
Tom Lea Gallery   1 Arts Festival Plaza
915 532-1707

Through Sunday, June 11, 2017

In 1998 the El Paso Museum of Art inaugurated the Tom Lea gallery devoted to the work of Tom Lea and other artists of this region from the nineteenth century to the present. Born in El Paso in 1907, Tom Lea was one of the Southwest’s most prolific and respected American scene artists. Today he is known for his work as muralist, illustrator, war correspondent, portraitist, landscapist, novelist, and historian. As a portraitist Tom Lea enjoyed capturing the portrait likenesses of those he chose to paint.

Tom Lea Fellowship Presentation
Maria del Carmen Barney and Delia Alicia Ramos
Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center
6University of Texas at El Paso   500 W University Avenue
915 747-6151

Tuesday, Oct. 18   6 p.m.

The Tom Lea Research Fellowship Program has been established by Dee and Adair Margo, who are dedicated to an appreciation of the art and culture of our region. The two recipients for this Fellowship are Delia Alicia Ramos, and Maria del Carmen Barney. The candidates will use the fellowship award to support research in studies of art history or literary history and culture in the Paso del Norte region.

San Jacinto Plaza and Tom Lea - El Paso's Identifying Center: Changing Architecture, Controversies and History
Led by Ken Gorski
Meet at El Paso Main Public Library - 501 N. Oregon St.

Architect and Professor of Architecture, Ken Gorski will lead visitors on a tour of downtown El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza. He will discuss its political, economic, and social importance on the border. A major focus of the tour will be Tom Lea’s perspective on San Jacinto Plaza’s controversial history and many architectural makeovers. The tour will include an initial lecture with fascinating photographic records of the past for a better understanding of the plaza’s history.

Tom Lea Gallery
El Paso Museum of Art
Tom Lea Gallery   1 Arts Festival Plaza
915 532-1707

Through June 11, 2017

In 1998 the El Paso Museum of Art inaugurated the Tom Lea gallery devoted to the work of Tom Lea and other artists of this region from the nineteenth century to the present. Born in El Paso in 1907, Tom Lea was one of the Southwest’s most prolific and respected American scene artists. Today he is known for his work as muralist, illustrator, war correspondent, portraitist, landscapist, novelist, and historian. As a portraitist Tom Lea enjoyed capturing the portrait likenesses of those close to him.

Student Focus Talks on Tom Lea
El Paso Museum of Art
Tom Lea Gallery   1 Arts Festival Plaza
915 532-1707

Thursday, Oct. 13th   7p.m.

Student interns from the University of Texas at El Paso have been a mainstay of the Tom Lea Institute, planning downtown tours, assisting with grants and organizing Tom Lea Month. This year, UTEP students from several disciplines will study artworks on view in the Tom Lea Gallery, which was named in 1997 when the El Paso Museum of Art moved to the location of the old bus station downtown and dedicated a space to Tom Lea and artists of the Southwest. They will present twenty-minute talks on what they have learned from the region's most iconic artist.

Brave Bulls Movie Screening
Craft and Social
305 E. Franklin Ave, El Paso TX 79901
915 219-7141

Thursday, Oct. 6th   7p.m.

“It was sunrise of a day that cast a spell and I felt its bright power. The sharp flavor of life on the ranches out in the country where the bulls were born and lived in majesty on the quiet grass, the sharp color of life at the bullrings in town with the music and the sunlight and the danger on Sunday afternoons, took hold of my heart.”

Events in Ciudad Juarez

Tom Lea and Bullfighting
Presentation by José Mario Sánchez Soledad
La Custodia de San Pablo
Ave. 16 de Septiembre No. 2355, Cd. Juarez, Mexico 
+52 656 114 9481

Wednesday, Oct. 12   6p.m.

Tom Lea studied bullfighting with a passion, attending bullfights in Juárez and making many friends. He shared his love of the corrida through newspaper articles, a bullfighting manual and a bestselling novel, The Brave Bulls. José Mario Sánchez Soledad, who built the Custodia de San Pablo, a cultural and gastronomic building that commemorates the history of bullfighting in Ciudad Juárez, will talk about Tom Lea’s example and what we can learn from it today.

“It has always seemed to me that I was fortunate in being born on the border in a town where two nations thought are in constant confrontation to test and to broaden and to deep daily that human beings do not all speak one tongue, all share in one fine set of aims and ideals, all conform to one established pattern of conduct, or all accept one definition of the good life or the bad or the purpose in it. Mexico and Mexicans, the favor of the Spanish language, the manners and customs and attitudes of the people, the particular character and color and vitality that distinguishes their land, seem to be a fairly constant and natural and enlivening part of my life.” -Tom Lea, A Picture Gallery, 1968

Ciudad Juarez Downtown Walking Tour
Led by Dr. Tomás Cuevas
El Pasoans meet at Camino Real Hotel,
101 South El Paso St. at 9a.m.
R.S.V.P. with Paola Martinez at or call 915 533-0048
Friday, Oct. 14   9:30 a.m.

Simply by crossing a bridge from downtown El Paso to Juárez on the Mexican side, visitors sense another pace and rhythm of life. Led by tourism instructor of the Autonomous University of Juárez, Tomas Cuevas. Participants will visit awe-inspiring sites like the 17th century Misión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which has served the people of the region for over 350 years; and the old red brick Customs House, beautifully restored to tell the story of the Mexican Revolution. In addition, stopping for breaks at la Nueva Central and Martino’s will provide a memorable culinary experience.

Tom Lea and the First Surgery in North America
Presentation by Dr. Rubén Garrido
Hospital Angeles Ciudad Juarez
Av. Campos Eliseos No. 9371, Fracc. Campos Eliseos, Cd Juarez, Mexico
Friday, Oct. 21   7 p.m.

In the 16th century Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was part of the failed expedition to America and was one of four survivors. He recorded his experiences in his Relación, published in Spain in 1542, including the removal of an arrowhead from an Indian’s chest. In 1965 Tom Lea commemorated the historical event by painting The First Recorded Surgical Operation in North America: Cabeza de Vaca, 1535 for the Texas Surgical Society. This year, Thoracic Surgeron, Dr. Ruben Garrido, will share with medical students from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and the public his surgical experience and personal perspective on the importance of Tom Lea’s work.

World War II

Tom Lea, Life and World War II
Exhibition on View
LThe National WWII Museum
945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 
504 528-1944, ext.463

Through Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017

Opening to enthusiastic crowds in June, this exhibition features twenty-six of the eighty-three paintings Tom Lea completed for Life magazine as its first accredited war artist-correspondent. Travelling over 100,000 miles from 1941-45, Tom Lea was embedded with soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines whose experiences he recorded. His seventeen paintings of the North Atlantic Patrol resulted in the most extensive article featuring an artist-correspondent’s work Life had done, and his paintings of his sixty six days aboard the USS Hornet during the Guadalcanal campaign became the only pictorial record of the carrier’s last months. The paintings provide a ringside seat to the reality of war, with the greatest number of paintings from the battle of Peleliu. Tom Lea’s paintings became full-color spreads in over ten issues of Life, reaching over 30 million readers. They are now housed in the Army Art Collection, U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Tom Lea and the Battle Peleliu

Presentation by Brendan M. Greeley, Jr.
EUS Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
New Orleans, LA

Friday, Nov. 11   1 p.m.

The Battle of Peleliu raged on from September 15 – November 27, 1944. Tom Lea landed on D-morning about fifteen minutes after the first troops hit the beach, with marines under the command of Captain Frank Farrell, Headquarters Company, Seventh Regiment. Staying with the men under fire for the first thirty-two hours of the assault, Tom Lea experienced the reality of combat, returning home to record the burden of his memory. Brendan Greeley, Jr, USMC (ret) discusses the actions of the campaign, the men involved, the objectives sought, and the aftermath as he places Tom Lea’s paintings into their historical context.

Tom Lea, Life Magazine and World War II
Presentation and Book Signing by Dr. Melissa Renn
Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permian Basin
4909 E. University Boulevard, Odessa, Texas  432 550-9696
Thursday, Oct. 20   6 p.m.

Art historian and curator Melissa Renn discusses why having artists was an essential supplement to Life’s photographic coverage of the war, and the things an artist could achieve that a photographer could not do.

A limited edition of Tom Lea, Life Magazine and World War II is published by the Tom Lea Institute in collaboration with the National Museum of the Pacific War and the National World War II Museum, with the support of the Brown Foundation. Introduction by Adair Margo and essay by Melissa Renn, with twenty-nine color plates of Tom Lea’s art. One thousand copies printed. $ 49.95 and available at

Back to top