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Southwest

1956 Tom Lea Born: El Paso, Texas 1907 Died: El Paso, Texas 2001 oil on canvas 10 x 32 in. (25.4 x 81.3 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Catherine Walden Myer Endowment and the Philip Desind Memorial Fund and gift of Mr. James H. Clement, Jr.; Mrs. James H. Clement, Sr.; Mr. Billy Bob Crim; Marsha Lea Daggett, PhD.; Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Decherd in honor of the President of the United States George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush; Mr. and Mrs. James F. Dicke II; Ms. Jennifer S. Dicke; Mr. and Mrs. H. David Herndon; Mrs. Jean J. Kemp; Mr. and Mrs. William L. Kiely; the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation; the King Ranch, Inc.; Mr. Al Lowman; Adair Margo Gallery, Inc.; Mr. and Mrs. Ellis O. Mayfield; 2002.38 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 33A


Luce Center Label

Southwest is a small-scale version of a mural in the El Paso Public Library that Tom Lea and his wife, Sarah Dighton, presented as a gift to the citizens of the city. It is the only mural that Tom and Sarah worked on together and is signed with both of their names. Both the finished mural and this smaller version celebrate the wide-open sky and landscapes for which that region of the country is well known. After completing the six-by-twenty-foot mural, Lea wrote: "It took its shape simply as a luminous window looking out upon its birthland. It spoke of space, sun, cloud, rain, wind, mountain, mesa, rock, sand, soil, and of living growth nurtured by them. The only human habitant of this elemental landscape was the viewer of the mural; the landscape's horizon was at the viewer's eye level when standing on the library's floor. It was the earth, inhabited only by the viewer's mind." (the artist, quoted in Tom Lea 1907-2007 Centennial Celebration: Honoring the Life and Legacy of El Paso’s Greatest Native Son, 2007)

Keywords

Landscape - desert

Landscape - United States - southwest states

painting