El Paso Museum of Art

El Paso Museum of Art, exterior view of entrance and reflecting pool, photo by Christian Chapman

El Paso, TX




Draw! Tom Lea and Charles M. Russell

May 5 - July 29, 2001


As a special tribute to the late El Paso artist Tom Lea (1907-2001), the El Paso Museum of Art presents Draw! Tom Lea and Charles M. Russell from May 5 to July 29, 2001. The exhibition features 16 drawings, all from the Museum's permanent collection, illustrating each artist's unique reflections on the history and culture of the American West.

Among the works in the exhibition are eight preparatory drawings created in 1939 by Tom Lea for a mural competition for the St. Louis Post Office. Donated to the Museum in 1997 by Mrs. Jonathan David Schwartz, Sr. in memory of Jonathan David Schwartz, Sr. and Cecily Schwartz Prestridge, these rarely seen works demonstrate Lea's technical mastery and talent as a draftsman as well as his lifelong interest in capturing the adventurous spirit of exploration in America's western frontier. Lea was one of El Paso's most well-known and respected artists whose diverse and prolific career included art and journalistic work for Life magazine, prize-winning fiction and historical writing, illustration, painting, and public murals. (left: Tom Lea, St. Louis Mural Series, The Field, 1939, tempera, ink and pencil on illustration board, El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. Jonathan David Schwartz in memory of Jonathan David Schwartz, Sr. and Cecily Schwartz Prestridge, 1997, 5.1.8)

Also included in the exhibition are a group of seven drawings of frontier life and fur trading along the Missouri River by famed American artist Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), known for his romanticized depictions of the American West. These works were donated to the Museum in 1960-61 by one of Tom Lea's most important patrons, C.R. Smith, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and CEO of American Airlines. An additional drawing by Lea created in response to Russell's series will also be on view, as will a portfolio of prints featuring the work of Lea and Russell published by Carl Hertzog in 1950. (left: Charles M. Russell, To Fort Union to Trade, ink and pencil on illustration board, El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of C.R. Smith, 1961.2.2)


Other resources:

See the essay "Facts and Reflections About Charles M. Russell" by Vivian A. Paladin from artmt.com

Southwest Painting articles from this magazine:
Western Genre Art articles from this magazine:

AskArt.com has a wealth of facts and pictures on over 100 top Western genre painters. Artcyclopedia also has links on more than 40 artists specializing in the American West.

Read more about the El Paso Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/28/11

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