Friday, June 13, 2014

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

By S. Derrickson Moore
@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,, 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.

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