We’re pleased to share the exciting news that Tom Lea Institute founder Adair Margo received the prestigious Historic Preservation Medal for her efforts to preserve Tom Lea’s art and writings.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution honored Margo for her years of hard work at a conference in Houston in March. The society presents fewer than 30 of these awards each year, so it’s a great honor and a testament to the importance of Lea’s work. Margo was nominated by the El Paso Stoddert-del Norte Chapter of the NSDAR.
Though Margo is receiving the award for work she began long before the Tom Lea Institute was founded, she’s quick to step out of the spotlight and shine it back on Lea’s work. “This is the first award I’ve gotten in historic preservation. But it really points to the importance of Tom Lea. It’s about preserving what he stood for,” says Margo.
Preserving Tom Lea’s work benefits El Paso’s young people
Though Lea’s art and writings bear witness to historical figures and events all over the world, his heart beat for his hometown: El Paso. Preserving Lea’s work is Margo’s labor of love, not only for Lea as her personal friend, but for the border area.
“It’s ours. It’s our roots. Preserving Lea’s art enriches all of our lives when we know where we come from and when you have someone who expressed it so beautifully, visually as well as in writing,” says Margo.
Cindy Phillips, National Chair of the NSDAR Historic Preservation Committee, says in the award letter, “This is the most prestigious award the National Society presents to individuals who have done extraordinary volunteer work over a long period of time.”
One of the many innovative ways The Tom Lea Institute preserves Lea’s art is through the creation of K-12 curricula.
“Students say ‘El Paso doesn’t have anything to offer. I’m getting out of here as soon as I can,’ but once they start studying Tom Lea and how he loved this region, they catch that same love. They see El Paso through Tom’s eyes and their own eyes open to the beauty, history, and culture of this region,” says Holly Cobb, Executive Director of the Tom Lea Institute.
Art preservation: The job we will never “finish”
To keep up with today’s technology and the online nature of modern life, Margo and the Tom Lea Institute have also created a digitized online gallery of Lea’s work and launched a stunning new website that allows art lovers, history buffs, and historians around the world instant access to his incredible paintings and writings.
This art preservation award comes at a time when so much of Lea’s work has been preserved and made more accessible but also a time when the Tom Lea Institute is gearing up to preserve and highlight another of Lea’s contributions, the Tom Lea Trail.
The Tom Lea Trail is a historic pilgrimage of sorts that draws the traveller along a journey to experience Lea’s art. It connects the regional histories of 15 different communities in Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico with the authenticity and insight that only Lea could have expressed.
Help future generations benefit from Tom Lea’s art
Future preservation efforts like the Tom Lea Trail are cultural and historical goldmines waiting to be ventured into. And we welcome you to partner with the Tom Lea Institute as we explore the possibilities together.
We invite you to partner with the Tom Lea Institute as a volunteer, member, or donor. We’re a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, presenting, teaching, and exhibiting the works of Tom Lea.
Click here to learn more about how you can do your part to preserve Lea’s truth-telling work and help us do the good work of pioneering the Tom Lea Trail.