Growing up in rural West Texas, Alice Leese remembers her trips to town with her grandmother, which always included a stop at the Odessa post office, where she was drawn to Tom Lea’s famous Works Progress Administration mural titled “Stampede.”
Decades later, in the isolated West Texas sand hills near Kermit, Leese creates oil paintings with the distinct sweeping style, fluid characters, and swirling skies so prevalent in the acclaimed New Deal artistic effort. That is, when she finds time to pick up a brush.
Leese is the fourth-generation steward of a massive cattle operation on the YT Ranch, a combination of several properties sprawling across the Permian Basin west of Odessa. (Her portrait showed up in Dan Winters’s recent photo series on the region.)
“Working cattle, taking care of the land every day, I see a lot of beautiful things,” notes the soft-spoken rancher and artist. “There’s got to be a way to get them out where everyone else can see them, where they can see the beauty of the land and feel what it feels like to be out there on the ranch.”
In this video from Texas Country Reporter, Leese invites viewers into her remote studio, where the wind is the soundtrack to a legacy of hard work and she lets her art speak for itself.