Tom Lea is world-renown El Paso artist, novelist and historian whose work still graces the walls of federal buildings and art museums. But to students at the school that bears his name, Tom Lea can often times just be a name on marquee.
That’s why, during the local celebration of October as Tom Lea Month, the Tom Lea Elementary School PTA decided to host an art competition that honors the artist’s legacy.
“It’s important for the students to know who Tom Lea was and what his background was, so they can be proud of their school,” PTA co-vice president Lorraine Armengol said.
The competition, which was open to the whole school, focused on the theme “Lea’s Bulls at the Pumpkin Patch.”
Winners will be announced next Thursday and will receive an art kit to continue cultivating their creative endeavors.
“The bull is not only our mascot, but bulls are so indicative of Tom Lea because of the novel ‘The Brave Bulls,’ which he wrote and illustrated,” Armengol said.
Art teacher Yuvia Rodriguez had the students focus on use of color in their creations. Some students used a bull template to create their artwork, while other students made their drawings from scratch.
“I have been teaching them about warm colors since it’s fall, so they used a lot of red, orange and yellow,” Rodriguez said.
The art competition goes hand-in-hand with the annual celebration in October, which has been designated Tom Lea Month for more than 10 years. The month-long festivities included art exhibits, walking tours and other educational events.
Adair Margo, the First Lady of El Paso and a local expert on Tom Lea, wrote a column in the El Paso Times outlining the importance of the artist for our community.
“As the president and founder of the Tom Lea Institute and someone who had the pleasure of getting to know Tom, I am delighted to see our community carry on his tradition of celebrating our heritage,” she wrote. “Tom captured the many traditions that came together to form our unique border region.”