From El Paso, Texas, Lester Hughes was a self-taught artist who painted imaginative landscapes of the Southwest, often with horse-back riding cowboys intent on their duties. President Ronald Reagan purchased over a dozen paintings by Hughes, and some of them hung in the White House during Reagan's tenure.
Back in 1969, when Lester Hughes quit his job as a business supply salesman to become a full-time artist, he never dreamed that one day his paintings would hang in the White House. Seven years later, however, this artists' dream came true, when one of his works was presented to President-elect, Ronald Reagan during a 1976 campaign stop in Hughes' hometown of El Paso, Texas. According to "Time" magazine that particular painting, a 24" x 36" oil featuring a Southwestern landscape with a dilapidated windmill and old shack, and several of Hughes' other works did hang in the presidential mansion during Reagan's tenure in office. Over the years, Reagan continued to be so enamored with Hughes' paintings that he purchased at least dozen more.
Success did not change Hughes' personality. Looking at his simple lifestyle, it is difficult to imagine that he numbers a bevy of Congressmen and Senators, and numerous other celebrities such as actress, Betty White, golfer Lee Trevino, and ex-Presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford among the collectors of his work.
Lester Charles Hughes (Jan. 4, 1938 – June 4, 2021) Credit: Family
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4) — Lester Hughes, a popular artist known for his western art, died, according to his family.
In addition, for being known for his paintings, Hughes was known for his love of El Paso, Nell Williams, Hughes daughter said. Hughes was a self-taught artist. His work hung in the White House during President Ronald Regan President George H. W. Bush's time in office.
Reagan honored Hughes in Time Magazine in 1981, stating that his painting was among some of his favorite memorabilia, according to Williams. Hughes died at the age of 83 years old at his home.
Lester Hughes a lifelong resident of El Paso, Texas died peacefully at his home on Friday, June 4, 2021. Lester is preceded in death by his wife Myrna Hughes, and two brothers, William Hughes and Teddy Hughes. Lester is survived by his 6 children Lester Hughes Jr, Nell Williams, Terry Hughes, Michelle Hughes-Goldman, John Hughes and Kathleeen Hughes. Lester had 8 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and a brother John E. Hughes. Lester was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and Professional Artist. He was deeply loved by all who knew him. He made the world a better place with his paintings and had such a big personality. He loved people and conversation and had a special gift of gab. He had a great sense of humor, always joking and laughing, one of the most unique people you had ever met. Prior to being an artist, he was a typewriter instructor. Lester was a self-taught artist who always would say it was a “God Given Talent” and gave all praise and honor to the lord. Most people didn't know that he was colored blind. Once he saw a picture in a gallery and went in to purchase it. He thought the sales price was $25 dollars but was told by the manager $250.00 was the correct price. After seeing the look on his face, the manager suggested he do his own painting. He then gave him a set of paints and brushes to get him started. Once Hughes discovered he had talent he quit his job and started painting full time. His studio was located in the house, in the utility room with the washer and dryer. In the walls of his studio hung a picture of Christ, with a handwritten message that read, “Whatever You Did For Christ Today Was Not Good Enough.” Since then, Lester Hughes had become a renowned Professional Artist. His artwork has been displayed and sold throughout the United States. His work has been admired and purchased by several U.S. Presidents, politicians, movie-stars and professional athletes. Ronald Reagan honored him in Time Magazine in 1981, stating that his painting was among some of his favorite memorabilia. His artwork was hung in the White House during Ronald Reagan and President George Bush’s Presidential term. When Vice President George Bush came to El Paso to hold a reception for Pat Haggerty; Lester was cordially invited.