Saturday, July 19, 2014

We have the state's best and most varied plazas



Santa Fe may have the state’s most famous plaza. But right here in the Mesilla Valley, we could make a case that we have the best and most unique assortment of plazas in the Land of Enchantment.
It may depend on your definition of a plaza.
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a plaza is “an open public area that is usually near city buildings and that often has trees and bushes and places to sit, walk, and shop.”
By that standard, we’re peppered with plazas.
If we’re going for tradition, Mesilla could give Santa Fe a run for their money.
The City Different has ages of bragging rights, of course, attaching to the honor of being the oldest capital city in the U.S. But I think Mesilla compares favorably. There is room for events like Christmas Eve, Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos and Diez y seis de Septiembre, but it never seems to become an out-of-control nightmare.
Many visitors have told me Mesilla reminds them of Santa Fe in more laid-back days. It’s still adobe, old, historical and authentic, but it’s also mellow, beautiful, accessible and a fun place to gather with family and friends, for fiestas, special occasions and just everyday strolls, meals and shopping.
I think it’s time to acknowledge the ever-evolving Las Cruces Plaza, too. That stretch of Main Street from city hall to My Brother’s Place is indeed our plaza, in fact and by tradition, even if it’s a long, rectangular shape. Who says a plaza has to be square?
With music, food, street performers and colorful shopping, Main Street downtown is brimming with plaza spirit at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market on Wednesdays and even more on Saturdays when the street is closed off and the LCP expands to accommodate thousands of people. You’ll find the same spirit during Downtown Rambles at museums, galleries and shops from 5 to 7 p.m. the first Friday of each month, at fiestas like the Las Cruces Country Music Festival and at newer events like food truck roundups, night markets and Project Main Street events.
And speaking of La Placita, Las Cruces is establishing a growing plaza-within-a-plaza trend. The pretty little mosaic-floored mini-plaza has become a popular gathering place, as has the grassy patch near the St. Genevieve memorial right across from it.
And in June, the Las Cruces City Council approved a $5.397 million agreement with Las Cruces Community Partners to construct a 1.362-acre plaza on land now being used for the Bank of the West drive-up facility at the northeast corner of Griggs Avenue and Main Street.
We have an organic, innovative evolving plaza situation here, not surprising, perhaps, in the fiesta capital of the world.
There are other popular plazas in our downtown hood, too.
June’s Pride Festival reminded me of the pretty little plaza that is Pioneer Women’s Park. It has a gazebo, lots of shade trees, a lovely public building nearby (Court Youth Center/Alma d’arte Charter School for the Arts) and quiet streets that are perfect for staging a small walking parade. Or horse drawn-carriages, which have offered festive transportation for multi-plaza events like recent Winterfests, which once included the then-Downtown Mall, luminarias at Pioneer Women’s Park and festivities at Klein Park. (Klein Park, by the by, was a perfect “plaza” for 2014 Border Book gatherings, and a nice site for part of the Music in the Park Series.)
Other area parks have also earned plaza status.
Veteran’s Park on Roadrunner Parkway has become a plaza for veterans and those who love them. It’s a beautiful and dignified site for special ceremonies, family gatherings or quiet visits to remember those who have sacrificed so much in so many conflicts.
Young Park has become a kind of park-plaza hybrid, a laid-back gathering place for fiestas like the Renaissance ArtsFaire and Music in the Park concerts.
Las Crucens enjoy getting together and thanks to providence or good planning, or maybe both, we are blessed with many wonderful plazas to share.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter or Tout or call 575-541-5450.

Singing and Dancing in the Rain



Ah, rain!
The real stuff has finally made an appearance: the deluges that come with thunder and lighting and the aromas of ozone and mesquite and something else that pervades high-desert country. I suspect it’s a mixture of settled dust and damp piñon and assorted other plants, native and domestic, that have finally enjoyed the deep, refreshing drinks they’ve been longing for these last, long, bone-dry months.
I call it the smell of gratitude.
When I first moved to New Mexico, a colleague told me to brace myself for the first big rain of the season.
“People actually go out and dance in it,” he said.
I found that hard to believe, recently arrived from Oregon, weary from decades of Portland winters: long, drizzly months of gray skies, grumpy, soggy souls with migraines and Seasonal Affective Disorder — exacerbated by light deprivation, giant slugs and pervasive mold and mildew.
Lured by Chamber of Commerce promises that nearly every day would be sunny in the Land of Enchantment, I settled in for my first summer in Santa Fe. A few weeks later, I awoke to sounds that reminded me of the then-recent eruptions of Mount St. Helens.
I called an old buddy and asked what kind of natural disaster had befallen us.
“It’s just a thunderstorm,” he told me.
I’d lived so long in Pacific Northwest, land of perpetual drizzle, that I’d forgotten what a real thunder and lighting storm was like. I liked it, especially since the sun usually emerged soon afterwards. I started writing, slightly tongue-in-cheek, I’ll admit, about New Mexico’s summer monsoon season.
There were chuckles, but before long, it seemed to catch on. Though we then tended to associate the word with places in the world that experienced deluges in a few hours or a few days comparable to the amount the desert skies bestowed on us during an entire year, a monsoon, is, after all, a monsoon: a season of heavy rains.
The word may evoke dread on some parts of the planet, but here, a monsoon is generally a good, even a blessed, prayed-for event.
I haven’t forgotten 2006, when communities like Hatch and Ruidoso were tormented by overgenerous monsoons, but I also remember that all of Southern New Mexico seemed to turn Oz-emerald green, and fields of wildflowers emerged that I’d never seen before. Birds and bunnies and other assorted wildlife had their own little fiestas. Even a sometimes destructive monsoon offered wonderfully compensatory beauties and benefits.
I’ve been thinking about that green year since July stormed in, bringing purple blossoms to all the neighborhood sage bushes and almost-overnight patches of greenery wherever lurking weeds could get a toehold and slurp a few drops of water in our mostly gravel yards.
“The rain is like a fertilizer to the weeds,” said Mr. Rubio, a nice man who lives nearby and knows all about wrangling vegetation in high desert country.
No matter. Pulling a few weeds is a small price to pay for all the good stuff that happens when the monsoons come in.
As I now regularly inform newcomers and remind natives, “Singing in the Rain” was written by someone from our territory, Nacio Herb Brown, of Deming, NM.
We know about that impulse, and I’m surprised that we haven’t come up with some kind of monsoon festival, here in the fiesta capital of the planet.
But then, we never know quite when, or if, the monsoon season will roll in. The surprise is part of the fun.
So, when it comes at last, gather your family and friends, or just slip out on the porch all by yourself, and enjoying a little joyous, life-renewing singing and dancing in the rain.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter or Tout or call 575-541-5450.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Getting Crafty

Arts and crafts are inextricably intertwined with some of my best summertime experiences.
Having a mother who was an art and American history teacher was a good start, of course. All the art-supply basics were usually available for drawing and painting, but mom was also game for some of the pre-fab commercial kits, too.
One of my earliest and most vivid toddler memories involved unmolding Plaster of Paris Disney figures from unwieldy rubber molds and attempting to make them as beautiful as they were on movie screens. It was impossible, of course, but that didn’t stop me from trying again with my son Ryan and more than two decades later with grandson Alex the Great.
All three generations agreed that Plaster of Paris and unwieldy molds are still fun, as are the classics: drawing and painting.
Thanks to evolving craft technology, sculpture has gotten better. Icky elementary school clay and papier-maché, gave way in my household to air-dry paper clay or the polymers that you can bake in the oven. Almost instant gratification.
I’m also a big fan of wearable art projects. Products now on the market make it a snap to decorate clothing, some of which have remained in family wardrobes for decades. I wish I could still find that fabric paint that simulated a suede finish, for instance. I’ve experimented a lot with specialized fabric paints over the years (spray paints, paint pens, puffy paints, matte and shiny and glittery paints that come in little plastic squeeze bottles). And regular old liquid acrylics help create my fave bright turquoise boots.
Childhood arts and crafts projects could lead to careers or lifetime hobbies. And there’s something about artistic inspiration that easily transcends generations. Mom taught me how to knit, but I was the one that got her hooked on other needlework arts and crafts.
Samplers were a natural for anyone interested in history. I found examples in books (in the olden days before the internet) of samplers done by little girls in early America, when it was not uncommon for small children to master dozens of specialized stitches and demonstrate their skills in samplers that were genuine works of art.
Before long, we moved on to crewel embroidery. I clearly remember the thrill of transforming gossamer embroidery floss and later, rich, woolen yarns, into three-dimensional things of lasting beauty. It seemed like magic.
In a family of dedicated campers and wilderness aficionados, nature crafts were inevitable, too.
Seashells were a challenge, and though I’ve never come up with anything that I’ve found quite as beautiful as the original creation itself, I’ve had fun trying to use them to create interesting things. I’ve made seashell flowerpot mosaics and used them for ears and ornaments for soft-sculptures inspired by kachinas and pretty wreaths.
I was pleased to learn that wreaths are a very popular summer craft for kids this year. If you start with stuff you love, it’s almost impossible to make a bad wreath. They’re particularly nice for small collections. I’ve made wreaths with folk art dolls, pieces of broken ceramics, antique toys, dried vegetation, tiny pots, faux fruits and vegetables, little pieces of original art and found objects (the fancy fine art term for whatever you can grab that appeals to you). (Note to artistic daredevils and fashion risk-takers: A lot of the components of a spectacular wreath can also ornament a remarkable hat. Think Carmen Miranda and go for broke.)
Don’t overlook what’s growing in your garden. Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful child in with a crown or necklace made only with a fingernail and a bunch of field daisies? (If you don’t know how, Google “how to make a daisy chain.”) It’s also great fun to press wildflowers or non-prickly desert vegetation until dry between paper towels in thick books and then use them in little pictures or on note cards.
What was your favorite childhood craft? Chances are, there’s a little person somewhere who would love to learn how to do it, too.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout, or call 575-541-54540.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are we entering a Golden Age



The Golden Age.
It’s a phrase I’ve been hearing as far back as I can remember, at very different points all over the globe. Often, according to those on the scene, I just missed it.
My hometown of Muskegon, Mich., was Lumber Queen of the World, the century before I was born. Hamburg, Germany, claimed to have as much to do with the Beatles phenomenon as rockin’ Liverpool ... a few years before I lived there.
I knew I was getting close. The Pacific Northwest was finally recognized as the epicenter of eco-consciousness, Grunge and coffee consumption shortly after I moved to Northern New Mexico. There, I was told, I was enjoying the last days of Santa Fe’s Golden Age. I did some seminal stories on Santa Fe Style, just as the trend was beginning to peak, and one of the last interviews with Georgia O’Keeffe, who died while I was living in the City Different.
This year, it hit me, as I was doing in-depth interviews with artists like Bob Diven, Irene Oliver-Lewis, Mark Medoff and others I’ve discussed Golden Age concepts with over the last two decades.
We’ve arrived. We’re smack dab in the middle of a Golden Age. Right here, Right now. In Las Cruces.
It’s been building for awhile. From what native and longtime Las Crucens have told me, I think it started, at least the arts and entertainment portion of the surge, sometime in the 1970s, with the founding and growth of theater groups, fiestas, performing arts, new venues, formation of professional and community arts organizations, a symphony and  a ballet company that attracted world-class artists.
Another surge started in the mid-1990s, about the time I was fortunate enough to arrive. Our little city was retaining, attracting and inspiring a world-class assortment of poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers and visual artists.
We saw ourselves in artistic mirrors, in the words and music and visions of those who live here, and recognized the truth and beauty and heritage of our multicultural Borderlands. New fiestas to celebrate all this were born and the festivals we already had got bigger.
We paid more attention to our appearance. We’ve lovingly restored historical buildings. We made some bold new architectural statements, from the East Mesa to NMSU and Downtown Main Street. We finally tore down those ugly arches, created new theaters, federal and city buildings, plazas, museums, shops, schools and galleries downtown, and even got a start on establishing what could become a thriving Mesquite Street district of unique galleries, our answer to Santa Fe’s Canyon Road.
I’m not talking a Roman Empire, rise, decline and fall story here. We’ve been building up to this for awhile and we’re still at it. The “best places to live” lists have long-since discovered us and gotten the word out and we’ve attracted some remarkable people and enterprises without — so far, at least — losing our magical mix of arts, academic and agricultural resources, of wilderness, mountains, roadrunners, green chile, space pioneers and innovative artists.
I think we’ve reached a critical mass, a pinnacle, but I wouldn’t say we’ve peaked.
Here in high desert country, marathons are a better strategy than sprints, and I think we’re beautifully equipped for a long run, and getting better all the time.
That’s it. I’m calling it. Here we are: It’s the Golden Age of Las Cruces.
We should give more thought, very soon, to the big questions. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Where are we going? How can we preserve and nurture and develop our remarkable traits? How can we sustain and share and celebrate what makes us unique without losing our downhome querencia spirit and charm?
But just for a moment, let’s pause. Look around. Appreciate. Be grateful. And bask in our Golden Age.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout or call575-541-5450.

Irene Oliver-Lewis has new visions

When I moved to Las Cruces in 1994, it was a forgotten spot in the otherwise very nice little neighborhood around Pioneer Women’s Park.
It was the remains of what was once Court Junior High School. The old Pueblo Revival building still had lovely bones, but inside, there was devastation. The homeless, drug addicts and assorted mice, rats, cucarachas and miscellaneous vermin has made themselves at home for decades.
Not long after I first interviewed Irene Oliver-Lewis, recently returned to her home town after arts and education adventures in Japan, Korea, Okinawa and then Albuquerque, she invited me to tour CJHS.
“A lot of us loved this building and remember when it was beautiful. It can be beautiful again,” Irene told me.
In what now seems like the blink of an eye, but what was in reality some very labor-intensive years, those dreams became a reality and a home for Court Youth Center programs and eventually, for Alma d’arte Charter School.
During two decades of covering Irene’s adventures and plans, I discovered that fulfilling big dreams (or as she terms it: “dicho y hecho: said and done”) is her specialty.
And there’s a lot of fun to be had in the process. Fun gigs on the A & E beat, thanks to Irene, have included spending a day in a limousine with actor and educational advocate Edward James Olmos, who came at her behest to talk to area kids and speak at a CYC benefit.
And because of Irene, Court and Alma d’arte students always seem to have a booth and a presence at everything from brand new arts festivals to revivals of traditional celebrations on the Mesilla Plaza and Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches on Main Street. They make signs, silkscreen T-shirts and conjure all kinds of original art to celebrate diversity and the joy of our multicultural borderlands. They dance and sing and do impromptu performance art on the steps of the newly-restored Rio Grande Theatre. And if you look closely, you’ll see Irene’s always there somewhere in the mix, producing, directing, cheering everybody on.
I had a chance to meet her artistic dad Fred Oliver, and see some of the beautiful furniture and woodwork he created, at a WPA arts exhibit and in their downtown Las Cruces home. I shared the mega-watt pride beaming from her parent’s faces at the premiere of Irene’s play, “Ceciliasms: Dichos de mi Madre,” It’s a warm and funny tribute that I suspect most any Baby Boomer could identify with, but also offers an intimate look at what it’s like to grow up in Las Cruces.
Irene has generously shared insights and information, and her genius for bringing creative plans to fruition, with thousands of kids and countless adults. I’ve watched her in action in scores of community planning meetings for events and projects that have since become world-class institutions, from the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference to area Día de los Muertos celebrations.
She’s introduced me to top flamenco dancers, visiting artists and arts experts and authors, arts advocates, singers, musicians, movie stars and filmmakers from around the world.
When I’ve been confused by something in my adopted homeland, my querencia, I know I can count on Irene to clue me in.
She gave me a recipe for capirotada and steered me to a restaurant with a great version of the Easter season treat. She arranged for me to meet Mesilla artist and historian Preciliana Sandoval and world-class papel picado maestro Catalina Delgato-Trunk.
She collected items and stories for fun dioramas and oral history projects that seemed to spark a new interest in regional history in several generations here.
CYC’s auditorium became a hot new venue for concerts, dances, ceremonies and theatrical presentations — filling the building and the community that surrounds it with new life, art, inspiration and meaning.
It was also the site for a healing experience at a time of national and deeply personal mourning. When our editor Harold Cousland died a few days after the 9-11 attacks, Irene offered Court’s auditorium for a memorial service.
I was sad to hear she’s leaving Court Youth Center, but glad to hear about her new dreams, which, as always, promise inspiration, creativity and lots of fun and adventure for all of us here in Las Cruces, and I suspect, more expansive venues as well. Read about some of her visions in today’s SunLife Artist of the Week feature.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com. @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout or call 575-541-5450.

Fun Times with Dad

When our new photographer Carlos Sanchez and I were traipsing around Main Street asking people to share memories of their most fun moments with their dads for Friday’s SunLife feature, we couldn’t help remembering some fond memories of our own.
I was surprised to find that several people we talked to described their favorite times with dad as work-related or experiences that many of us think of us stressful, like learning to drive.
But when I thought about it, and compared notes with my sister and brother, we realized that teachable moments were attached to many, if not most, of the best times spent with our dad and our maternal grandfather. (Dad’s father died when I was almost three years old, just before my brother was born).
Grandpa taught us to canoe and shoot bows and arrows and some of the finer points of fly-fishing.
Dad taught us to kayak and where to find worms, assemble a fishing rod and reel, bait a hook, and rig and cast a line. He explained how to load rifles and shotguns, how to break and walk with a loaded rifle, and most importantly, how we should NEVER, EVER point a gun at anything we did not intend to shoot.
That lesson was so ingrained in me, that I still cringed, generations later, when my son or grandson would point toy guns and water pistols at random targets.
Dad taught us to hunt woodcocks, pheasant and partridge, which our Brittany Spaniel, Duffy, obligingly pointed out for us, but which I never managed to bring myself to shoot. Like many Baby Boomers, being the first generation to be traumatized by the death of Bambi’s mother, I never really considered deer hunting.
But dad did teach us to wear bright orange and avoid any clothing that might remind hunters of the white tails of deer whenever we found ourselves in wilderness areas during deer hunting season.
Since we spent a lot of family time in wilderness areas, that bit of fashion advice may have been crucial to our survival to adulthood.
Dad taught us a lot about camping, which was on the agenda nearly every weekend when the weather was good, and several when it was lousy.
I learned to wear waders in icy rivers and fish in the rain, when the fishing was usually best. Dad taught me how to set a hook and clean a trout. Later, when I decided fishing was just an excuse for meditating around water, I filled my creel with wildflowers (which mom taught me to press) and books to read and notebooks for poetry.
Dad didn’t really teach me that, but he wrote poems, too, and taught us that it was cool.
I’ve never forgotten Dad’s announcement to mom when I wandered over to his battered old Smith-Corona typewriter at age 6, taught myself to type, and produced my first poem.
“Look, Doris, she’s taken up the family instrument,” Dad said.
Both he and mom were enthusiastic readers and witty and literate conversationalists who loved words and books. Long car trips (and there were a lot of those, getting to all those wilderness areas) were spent singing their extensive repertoire of songs with witty lyrics and lovely melodies. Dad knew many long poems and rambling epic ballads, and he shared those, too.
All three of his children grew up to be writers, and I think my parents’ love of words had a lot to do with this.
So, in our own way, our best times with Dad were spent learning useful skills.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have dads who helped teach us how to make our way in the world, doing things we love to do, and to show us a good time in the process.
If your dad is still around, it’s the perfect time to say, “Thank you.”
Happy Father’s Day.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com. @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout or call 575-541-5450.

Friday, June 13, 2014

AdobeHenge, Billy the Kid Statues and more from Las Cruces' Renaissance Guy, Bob Diven

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
@DerricksonMoore on Twitter
LAS CRUCES >> Bob Diven is at it again.
The innovative artist has given Las Cruces a street art festival, not one but two RenFaire dragons and a “ratapult,” several paintings, murals, sculptures, plays and musical compositions, an artistic bus stop, and some extraordinary performance art. And now he has some exciting new projects in the works.
He’s going for the bronze, with a series of life-sized Billy the Kid sculptures. He just finished a monumental red-white-and-blue mural on a Mesilla adobe barn just in time for Memorial Day. And he hopes Las Cruces residents may soon point with pride to an adobe replica of Stonehenge and a unique cow with New Mexico Zia spirit.
“I’ve completed my life-sized sculpture of Billy the Kid, and am now accepting subscriptions (pre-sales) for a limited edition of 13 bronzes that will be cast by Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque, N.M.,” Diven said.
The iconic outlaw stands 72.5 inches in a pose inspired by the famous photo of Billy (also known as William Bonney and by assorted other aliases) in a rustic outfit with revolver, rifle, weathered hat and neckerchief.
Whatever the fate of the baker’s dozen of Billy sculptures, Diven is not about to rest on his laurels.
“I’ve submitted a proposal for a large public art destination called “AdobeHenge” to the Bureau of Land Management, after talks with the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. This is a long-range bit of creative fun that could be a very nice thing for the museum and the town, I think,” opines Diven.
In a proposal, Diven envisions the work as 12 adobe “trilithons” built of stabilized adobe brick in a 100-foot circle constructed on a hill overlooking the museum. Each pair of 13-foot-tall adobe columns will support “a massive wooden timber.”
He thinks the project could become a tourist attraction and a site for weddings, celebrations and public events.
“This ‘AdobeHenge’ idea seems uniquely appropriate for where he is proposing it be located. With the signature centerpiece of our newest national monument as a backdrop, our native building material will rise out of the desert landscape to interact with our abundant sun and beautiful environment. Bob always brings a sense of fun to what he does, but watch out!  There’s usually a nugget or more of something to be learned wrapped in the fun,” said Las Cruces City Councilor Greg Smith.
Diven keeps the benefits in mind when doing community projects.
“I like to think of as many ways as possible to benefit as many people as possible. I’m not counting on it being just publicly funded. This could be a private-public project with activities and workshops for the public, maybe making adobe bricks on site. I’ve met with civil engineers and Pat Taylor, a local adobe specialist, and I’ve gotten some pleasantly positive email responses from members of the city council, county commission and state legislature,” Diven said.
State Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, District 38, is thrilled with the project, in fact.
“I just think it’s wonderful when we have local artists who are interested and doing things and understand us and our culture,” said State Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Dist. 38.
Bob has a few other monumental plans in mind.
“While I’m dreaming of public art projects, I’m releasing word about my ‘New MexiCow’ sculpture idea that I’d like to see installed on the NMSU campus,” Diven recently announced in an online bulletin to fans, friends and patrons.
He enclosed a postcard image of a large white cow atop a towering cattle guard. Onlookers would be able to enjoy a surreal view of the sky through a Zia design structure constructed within a large opening in the bovine’s mid-section: New Mexico’s very own hole-y cow.
While we’re waiting, there are several fruits of Diven’s artistic labors that are available for public viewing.
Visitors to Mesilla can check out his mural on the door of the vintage adobe barn of Joni Gutierrez and Lowell Catlett, on Calle de Parian, just west of the Mesilla Post Office.
“It’s the second mural he’s done for us. We love his work,” said Gutierrez, who also commissioned a large “Seedling” sculpture by Diven, which stands nearby.
“They wanted street art on their barn. It’s all done in tempera paint, so it will weather and fade and eventually disappear,” Diven said.
There are some “ghosts” left on Main Street from the recent third annual Avenue Art New Mexico street-painting festival, which Diven, also a multi-award-winning street artist, founded in association with the Las Cruces Downtown Partnership.
“It was crazy windy, but our artists stuck it out. I was very pleased with the growth of the event, especially the growth in the participating artists who are figuring out how to take advantage of the medium,” Diven said.
You can see the abstract figures in bright primary colors cavorting on the bus stop he created near Las Cruces City Hall and Branigan Library.
And a new, smoke-breathing, automated dragon, the latest reincarnation of Diven’s “Magellan,” created in collaboration with NMSU engineering students and faculty, should be ready to greet time travelers at the 2014 Doña Ana Arts Council Renaissance ArtsFaire in November. The first Magellan entertained faire-goers for decades, along with Diven’s other RenFaire creation, Robert the Ratcatcher, who spins tales and hurls faux rats with a special catapult he created.
Diven also designs and makes his own armor and is working on a plane. He’s acting in a TV pilot for a comedy currently being shot in Truth or Consequences. He’s finishing up a short film of his own, too, and is preparing for “a commissioned combat painting for a fighter squadron out of Maryland. They flew A-10 Thunderbolts out of Afghanistan.”
It’s clear that there’s no hyperbole in his designation as “Las Cruces’ Renaissance Man.”
“The Mesilla Valley Concert Band premiered my new ‘Siblings March’ for band at their last concert. I’m still doing paintings and commissioned portraits: they’re my bread and butter. And some commercial art, too. I just designed a coffee logo,” he said.
If you’d like to find out more about obtaining your very own life-sized Billy bronze, or learn more about his other projects and performances, visit online at bobdiven.com, facebook.com/bob.diven, call 575-642-7445 or write him at Bob Diven, P.O. Box 2781, Las Cruces, NM 88004-2781.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.