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Media Release

Published: 05/08/2007

Dreamscape Desperado - Billy the Kid and the Outlaw in America

Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, May 13 – July 22, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE - Billy the Kid is not only New Mexico’s most famous citizen, but the most famous outlaw in American history.  Beginning Sunday, May 13, 2007 The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History will present the facts and myths that surround Billy the Kid, in the exhibition Dreamscape Desperado: Billy the Kid and the Outlaw in America.
The exhibit will explore who the real Billy was, and highlight the Billy of our collective imagination.  This romanticized icon of the American West, shot and killed by legendary lawman Pat Garrett at a mere 21 years old, has inspired 60 films (more than any other historical figure,) a ballet with score by Aaron Copland, songs, plays, a small library of historical works, and novels by several Pulitzer-prize winners.
Dreamscape Desperado attempts to explain just why Billy rides across the world’s imagination with such power.  The opposing traits of criminal and fighter for justice place him alongside Robin Hood and Ned Kelly in the gallery of international outlaws.  His fame in America mirrors that of other notorious outlaws from Jesse James to John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde.  Yet, Billy remains unique.
Even before his death in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881 the territorial press had built him into legendary status.  At the same time the eastern press had picked up on the story of the Kid’s daring escape from the Lincoln County jail where he left two dead deputies in his wake.  At least eight New York newspapers published stories on his death, as did The Times of London. 
Dreamscape Desperado will include historic artifacts from Billy and his era, along with a unique collection of pop culture items inspired by his legend. These will encompass everything from songs about Billy to comic books to movie clips.
Paul Hutton is the guest curator of the Dreamscape Desperado exhibition.  He is a Professor of History at the University of New Mexico specializing in U.S. history, the American West, and U.S. military history. Hutton is also the Executive Director of the Western History Association.
Billy the Kid has been the subject of more than sixty films.  An elusive figure in real life, he became a big screen character that could be shaped to fit the needs of each generation.  The films in this series are a sample of the many ways Billy the Kid has been reinvented over time. Admission to the film series is free.
Thursday, May 24 - 6:30 p.m.
Billy the Kid (1930)
This is the first talking picture about Billy the Kid based on the 1926 novel The Saga of Billy the Kid by Walter Noble Burns.  Director King Vidor casts All-American football star Johnny Mack Brown in the role of the Kid.  Filmed near Gallup, NM the movie is renowned for its realistic settings and epic scope.  Please note this is a classic film that has not been re-mastered. 95 minutes.
Thursday, June 14 - 6:30 p.m.
Left Handed Gun (1958)
In 1957 the Kid’s story was adapted to conform to the rebellious teenager obsession that was sweeping the nation.  Left Handed Gun featured Paul Newman in the leading role. James Dean was originally cast as Billy the Kid but died before he could play the role.  In director Arthur Penn’s version, Billy searches for both vengeance and personal identity after the murder of his surrogate father John Tunstall.  102 minutes.
Thursday, June 28 - 6:30 p.m.
Chisum (1970)
John Wayne plays the role of John Chisum, who he portrays as a benevolent capitalist battling the bad guys of the Lincoln County.  He joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war.  Billy’s rebellious character plays off Chisum’s honest straight talking man of action. 111 minutes.
Thursday, July 12 - 6:30 p.m.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
In this film by director Sam Peckinpah, Billy the Kid,  played by Kris Kristofferson, is a charming and violent relic with no place in the new order of the West. An aging Pat Garrett, played by James Coburn must hunt down his friend Billy to please the interests of wealthy cattle barons. Bob Dylan plays a role in the film and also wrote the soundtrack for the movie.  This film is rated R for violence, sexuality and nudity. 115 minutes.
The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History
2000 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque NM 87104
Museum admission:  $4 Adults ($1 discount to NM residents w/ ID),
$2 Seniors (65+), $1 Children 4-12. Children 3 and under are free.
General admission is free the first Wednesday of the month and every Sunday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Albuquerque Museum is a division of the Cultural Services Department of the City of Albuquerque. 
Martin J. Chávez, Mayor.
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