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Tom Lea Mural/Odessa Book Festival

Tom Lea's Stampede and a trip to Odessa -

It's a striking image and all the more so because it hangs almost anonymously in the downtown Odessa, Texas post office. The work is called Stampede and it is a classic example of the mural art of Tom Lea. Lea is buried in El Paso, but has a cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery honoring his life and his works of art. Jason Walker and I had the opportunity to see the mural in person last week as we were invited to Odessa's Books in the Basin festival. Held at the Ector County Library, the festival was in its first year and considered a great success by organizers. Jason and I were invited to speak about the Texas State Cemetery book and sign copies of the work. Jason and I were happy to go and found the audience quite receptive and interested in the Cemetery. After an hour-long talk, we spoke to some staff members and a few people waiting for other panels and generally had a good time.

A librarian working at the festival told me about the mural and I had to see it. Since researching Lea, I've been fascinated by each phase of his life's work from the haunting World War II images (warning, some are quite graphic) to his Southwest art to his portaits. All Lea's works are haunting in their own way, in that something about the image makes you linger and think about it. The most striking aspect of the Odessa mural  (sorry for the top pic, the post office is quite dark) is the bull in the middle of the murral. Thoe aren't the eyes of a maddened steer, that's a bull looking right at you. 






- Will Erwin