The mural "Stampede" by Tom Lea hangs in the main Post Office in Odessa, Texas. It originally hung in the old Odessa post office built in 1940 and was move to the current Post Office since its construction in 1970. The mural measures a full 16' 9" wide by 5' 7" high and weighs 700 lbs. From 1934 to 1943, the federal government embarked on a unique art patronage program to decorate the walls of newly built post offices across the United States. The program was meant to inspire people with a sense of pride in the past and hope for the future during the Great Depression. In Texas approximately 100 paintings and sculptures were created for 67 post offices in large and small communities across the state. As a young boy growing up in Odessa I was fascinated by this larger than life painting. Each time I went to the old post office I would stare intensely at the detail of the cowboy falling off his horse and the red eyes of the steer that dominates the center of the mural.
Lea's words and paintings were reintroduced to the public through the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush who frequently quoted Lea in his run for the Presidency. One of Tom Lea's quotes from his book A Picture Gallery expressed the President's sense of optimism and hope for the future: "Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not the side to see the day that is gone. The best day is the day coming..."
Location Information The Odessa Post Office is located at the corner of Texas Avenue and 2nd street (Business 20) in Odessa, Texas
I just discovered a recently released book about the public art project in Texas. I highly recommend this book. Even the murals that have been destroyed or lost are shown in this book. I plan on taking this on my Texas Travels so I can find more of these art treasures that reside for the public benefit in Texas public buildings.
The Tom Lea painting "Stampede" was removed from the Odessa, Texas main post office and sent to be restored and repaired. The process will take about six months. After the work is done the museum will hang in its new home at the Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, Texas. The painting is scheduled to be unveiled on October 23rd, 2015. Check their website for details
Update: 10 April 2020