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Bob Diven sculpture of Billy the Kid celebrates local, state, national history


July 14 is a very important date for Las Cruces artist Bob Diven, and for New Mexico history.

Diven was born that day in 1959. And, 78 years before that, July 14, 1881, the world’s most famous outlaw, Billy the Kid, was shot and killed by Lincoln County (and future Doña Ana County) Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

That makes this year the 140th anniversary of The Kid’s death.

What brings Bob and Billy together is Diven’s ingenuity and artwork – a polychromed cast of Billy the Kid and a 3D-printed, 10-inch version of the sculpture. 

One of Diven’s casts is now in the collection of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and will be part of an exhibit on the Lincoln County War, Diven said. Another cast is on display in Julienne’s Jewelry, 2329 Calle de Guadalupe, across from La Posta Restaurant on the historic Mesilla Plaza – less than a block from where Billy was convicted of murder in April 1881.

Diven has two more of the casts available for sale that he is first offering to New Mexico historic sites.

Diven said his original sculpture was created out of oil-based clay.

“I then made a silicone rubber mold of that sculpture, backing it with a hard resin ‘mother mold,’” he said.

“I then cut the mold from the original clay sculpture, and then used two rotational casting machines of my own design to cast the sculpture in sections,” he said. “I then fit and cemented the pieces together, blending the seams, prepped them for paint and finished them with a hand-rubbed bronze finish.”

The completed life-size resin cast is finished to “look like bronze,” he said.

He took one of the resin casts of Billy to Albuquerque, where it was 3D-scanned to produce the small reproductions, he said.

“I first started this sculpture after talking with Pat Beckett of COAS Books,” Diven said. “He was joking that ‘the way to get people Downtown was to build a 100-foot Billy the Kid and put a restaurant in his sombrero.’  So I came up with the idea for The Billy the Kid Building downtown, with a giant fiberglass Billy as a local landmark and tourist draw. I haven’t been able to make the building happen, but at least the life-size version of the sculpture now exists.”

Henry McCarty, aka William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim, alias Billy the Kid, was born in New York City in 1859. He is buried in Fort Sumner. McCarty’s mother, Catherine Antrim, died Sept. 16, 1874 (which may be the day before Billy’s 15th birthday. The date of his birth is disputed; it was either Sept. 17 or Nov. 23, 1859.) She is buried in Silver City.