Big Bend Legacy

Big Bend Legacy

The exhibit Big Bend Legacy greets visitors as they enter the Museum of the Big Bend. Legacy introduces visitors to the distinctive natural history, human history and confluence of cultures in the Big Bend region.

Native Americans inhabited the area for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans. The Spanish, through their system of missions and presidios, imprinted their customs on the region only to be replaced by the nation of Mexico. The westward expansion of the United States brought yet another unique culture to the Big Bend.

Big Bend Legacy invites the visitor to experience this panorama of natural and human history.

Enjoy the video montage below which walks you through the museum’s world-class permanent exhibits!

Tom Lea: A Retrospective
Tom Lea, The Left-Handed Buffalo Hunter, 1937, oil on canvas, 41 x 41”, El Paso Museum of Art, Bequest of Billie Ruth Simpson
Tom Lea, Snake Dancers, 1932, dry brush and ink on paper, 28.5 x 24”, El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of Patsy M. Taylor, Henry and Pat Taylor Collection



6 to 8 PM

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EXHIBIT DATES: September 18, 2015 – March 31, 2016

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Knowing the North Star: The Life and Art of Tom Lea

Presented by Adair Margo, President of the Tom Lea Institute
Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 10 AM
Sul Ross State University – Morgan University Center – 2nd Floor

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Though largely unknown outside of El Paso, Texas, Tom Lea, 1907-2001, knew where he belonged. A muralist, illustrator, artist, war correspondent, novelist and historian, Lea was probably the only person to have been threatened by Pancho Villa, interrupted by Chiang Kai-shek and regaled by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However with his worldwide travels, he always returned to his beloved El Paso.

Lea created murals for federal buildings across the U.S. during the 1930s, created illustrations for two books with J. Frank Dobie and was an “Accredited War Artist-Correspondent” for Life magazine during World War II. His firsthand account of the Marine landing on the Peleliu beachhead was a turning point in his career. He published a fine press book of his eyewitness account with illustrations with the help of master printer Carl Hertzog. His eleven paintings from this landing including “The Two Thousand Yard Stare” have been reproduced in countless publications.

After his WWII experiences, he became an author in his own right. His works which he fully illustrated include The Brave Bulls and The Wonderful Country, which were both made into major motion pictures, and the two volume set of the history of the King Ranch. In the 1970s he returned to his studio full time. His painting Rio Grande hung in the Oval Office during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Over twenty original works of art from the El Paso Museum of Art were on display.

Jim Bones

Jim Bones: 50 Years of Bagging Light in the Big Bend

EXHIBIT DATES: Through August 31, 2016

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Jim Bones was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1943. His father was an Air Force officer so he attended many primary schools, graduating from high school in Lompoc, California, in 1962.

He enrolled at UT Austin in 1962 to study aerospace engineering, but soon switched to geology. He then changed to fine arts to study and work with the documentary photographer Russell W. Lee.

In 1965 Bones began a lifelong career working with a large-format camera that makes 4×5 inch transparent slides. His first professional job was as production assistant to filmmaker Ron Perryman, for the H.E.W.-sponsored film, Pandora’s Box, Austin, Texas (1967) and the following year as a research photography consultant, for Programma de Education InterAmericana, for Texas A&M University.

From 1971 to 1972 he was a photography teacher at Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas. He spent a year (1972-1973) at the Dobie-Paisano Ranch, near Austin. The photographs made during his residency were published in 1975 in Texas Heartland: A Hill Country Year with John Graves.

From 1975 to 1978 he worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the dye transfer printing assistant to Eliot Porter, who was widely respected for his large-format color work, especially of nature.

Bones’ other works include the black and white book Texas Earth Surfaces (1970), Texas Wild, with Richard Phelan (1976), Junks of Central China, with Joseph E. Spencer (1976), Texas West of the Pecos (1981), Rio Grande, Mountains to the Sea (1985), Texas, Images of the Landscape (1986), Seeds Of Change-The Living Treasure, with Kenny Ausabel, (1994), The Smithsonian Guides To Natural America, The South Central States, with Mel White (1996), and A Long View Southwest, with J. Frank Dobie (2012).

Encino Press of Austin, Texas, published two portfolios of Bones’ handmade dye-transfer prints, A Texas Portfolio, with John Graves (1977), and A Wildflower Portfolio (1978).

While living in Santa Fe from 1978 to 2005, he was a self-employed photographer, writer and guide and upon moving to Alpine in 2005 has been the Interpretive Exhibit Photographer and Design Consultant for the Brewster County Tourism Council.

Bones also produced Images and Memories, an 8-part series of video programs about nature with writer Bill Porterfield for The Public Broadcasting System at KERA-TV, Dallas, Texas (1970-1971). In 1998 he produced The Seed Ball Story, a half hour video about a unique habitat restoration technique. His most recent video, Dreams of the Earth, Love Songs for a Troubled Planet, was made in collaboration with Terlingua songwriter, June Rapp. All are viewable on Youtube.

His works are in the permanent collections of:

Alexander and Alexander of Texas, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas ; Allen State Bank Collection, Dallas, Texas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Greg Copeland Collection, Fairfield, New Jersey; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Southland Royalty Company, Fort Worth, Lucent Corporation, Dallas, Wittliff Collection, Texas State University-San Marcos, and Story Sloane Collection, Houston.