Billy the Kid. The Myth. The Legend. The Art.

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Time to read 1 min

A bone-chilling winter in December 1880 in the vast Llano Estacado, sets the stage for the pursuit of Billy the Kid by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse. The Llano Estacado is located in the Southwestern United States, encompassing parts of Eastern New Mexico and Northwestern Texas. One of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent, its elevation rises from 3,000 feet in the Southeast to over 5,000 feet in the Northwest. The area is susceptible to turbulent winds, and because of the lack of vegetation and loose topsoil, there are frequent dust storms. It is characterized by long, hot summers and cold winters.


It is here that contemporary painter Thom Ross transports us … to this harsh, unforgiving landscape, where lawless men and lawmen battle the elements in cowboy boots, jeans, and long coats. It might be a contrast to the traditional scenes an artist chooses to depict, but Thom has been painting what “gives me the chills” for decades. Focusing on little-known, unknown, and even misunderstood historical figures, Thom explores cultures, locations, time periods, and events. He researches heroes, legends, explorers, and pioneers, looking at how they’re remembered or depicted in both literature and movies. And in each painting, he’s asking us to stop and think and learn with him.

Celebrating the stark beauty of this hostile environment, Thom paints the howling wind, dancing snowflakes, and figures cloaked in billowing coats and dusters. He captures the drama and danger faced by these men … men of historical truth and mythical legend. The legend of Billy the Kid, historical and mythical, resonates because it taps into universal human impulses and emotions. Much like the dual sides of a coin, Billy embodies both the tragedy and the charismatic anti-hero fighting against oppression. Across the globe, cultures recognize such figures in their own histories, from England’s Robin Hood to Australia’s Ned Kelly.

Thom’s paintings of Billy the Kid offer a captivating journey through history and myth, and the enduring mystique of cultural icons. They remind us that legends like Billy the Kid continue to matter, inspiring and thrilling us with their timeless tales, no matter how many years may pass.



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