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 Dave McGary  (1958 - 2013)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Arizona / Mexico      Known for: Indian figure sculpture

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Dave McGary
from Auction House Records.
Bear Tracks
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An interpreter of Native American culture, especially male Indians in historical native dress, Dave McGary is a sculptor whose studio from 1981 has been in Ruidoso, New Mexico. He employs about thirty artisans to complete the finishing work on his pieces that are cast at a variety of foundries.

His work is highly detailed, sometimes with several-hundred pieces welded together, and combines paints with patinas. He begins by making a wire skeleton and builds from the muscles to the skin to the clothing.

He grew up on the family ranch at Cody, Wyoming, and in junior high began casting jewelry. As a teenager, he met his mentor, western sculptor Harry Jackson, who was then living in Caspar, Wyoming. McGary earned a grant to study bronze making with Jackson in Italy where he spent two years studying, learning a variety of casting techniques and studying Renaissance marble carving.

Following that period, he spent several years working in foundries in New Mexico and became highly interested in Indian culture through his friendship with Sioux Indian families in South Dakota. Eventually he was adopted into that tribe's Bear Clan and given the right to attend their ceremonies.

Many of his works are monumental Indian figures such as "Touch the Clouds," dedicated in 1998 for the sculpture garden of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The Indian chief's arms span fifteen feet, and it is the first monument in Houston to portray a Native American. He was also commissioned by the city of Santa Fe to create a memorial statue of Don Pedro de Peralta, a city founder.

Biography from GallArt.com:
Dave McGary, at 52, has been described as the Master of Realism. Depicting Native American Indians, he focuses on capturing the human spirit with much attention to detail in form and historic content.

Dave was born the son of a ranching family in Cody, Wyoming. As a teenager, he was one of four people in the United States awarded a grant to study anatomy and the bronze-making process with master craftsmen in Italy. After returning to America in 1978, Dave spent the next three years working at a bronze foundry, developing his own style and techniques. In 1981, he opened his own foundry and finishing facility in the southern mountains of New Mexico. By 1982, Dave’s bronze work began receiving recognition at national art competitions, receiving Best of Show, and gold and silver medals for Death Mask, Story of the Little People, My Heart Is the Eagle, War Deeds, Birth Of Long Soldier and Long Soldier. Two of his bronzes, Horse Thief and Buffalo Warrior are in the permanent collection in the Old Executive Office building at the White House Complex, Washington, D.C.

Dave has been selected by jury twice to exhibit in the Hubbard Art Award for Excellence Show. His life-size work, Long Soldier, was selected for public display at the State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. He was commissioned by the City of Santa Fe to depict Don Pedro de Peralta, founder of Santa Fe, and his engineer. The one and one-half times life size, 18 foot high and 22-foot long monument was installed and dedicated during Fiesta Days in September 1992.

In July of 1993, Dave’s work was exhibited in a One-Man Show at the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington, D.C. In 1994, Dave was selected as the only artist from the United States to have a one-man show in the United Nations Environment Program’s exhibit, "Art and the Earth-A Dialogue with Nature."

Early in 1995, he constructed his own Finishing Studio and Expressions in Bronze Gallery. In July, Free Spirits at Noisy Water, Dave’s monumental sculpture of eight horses running through a natural landscape, was installed at Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. The bronze sculptures and the surrounding park were designed, sculpted and engineered by McGary. Considered an engineering feat, the eight horses, weighing 3,000-5,000 pounds each, are balanced on only nine hooves. The monument depicts seven American breeds: Thoroughbred, Quarterhorse, Appaloosa, Paint Mare with Foal, Arabian, Morgan and Standardbred. One of the largest equine sculptures in the world, it totals 255 feet in length. The top-most horse, a Standardbred, stands more than 36 feet in the air as he leaps from a man-made mountain.

In July of 1995, Dave also received the New Mexican of the Year Award, and in October, he received the Honorary Lifetime Alumni Award from Eastern New Mexico University for his contributions to the Arts in New Mexico. Dave released his new limited edition book in May of 1997 entitled Dave McGary, American Realism in Bronze: A Twenty Year Retrospective. This limited edition volume features text by Michael Duty, as well as detailed photographs of Dave McGary’s works over the past twenty-three years. A signed, numbered book is enclosed in the walnut base of each bronze. In October of 1997, as a show of appreciation for all of his Collector’s continued support over the years, Dave and Molly held a Gala for all of the Collectors who had purchased this piece. Each Collector and a guest was flown from their current locations to Ruidoso and stayed at the Inn of the Mountain Gods for the Gala. During this Gala, the guests attended many different functions including one evening with a dinner and dance.

On February 22, 1998, Dave installed a 30-foot tall, 15-foot wide monument weighing over ten tons at the Houston Astrodome. The sculpture, Touch the Clouds, depicts a nineteenth century Miniconjou Chief who fought alongside Crazy Horse at the Battle of Little Big Horn. The project was announced at a ceremony and national media press conference in February of 1996, where Dave unveiled a 43 inch bronze Masterwork of the monument. Although the fine art collection owned by The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is extensive, Touch the Clouds is the first Native American depicted and the largest bronze figure of the sculpture collection.
In May, Bounty of Gray Hawk and Bear’s Nest were on loan to the International Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas. The museum had been closed for several years and had just recently been purchased by an individual and remodel for the reopening of the museum. The pieces were placed on exhibit during the grand opening month of the newly established museum.

On August 20, 1999, Dave was selected to sculpt the Shoshone Warrior and Peacemaker, Chief Washakie. There are three monuments of Chief Washakie, all of which will be approximately eleven feet in height. One of the three pieces will be placed in our nation’s capitol, and the other two remaining will be placed at the Wyoming State Capitol and at the joint Shoshone and Arapaho Complex in Fort Washakie. Several artists were selected to send in their portfolios. Once their portfolios were received and looked over, then five finalists were chosen to go to Riverton, Wyoming for an interview and presentation. Dave was selected by the committee in which there were several members of the Washakie Family.

He worked closely with the committee and the family members on the completion of this project. The first piece was unveiled in a ceremony in September of the year 2000, and the second one in a ceremony in the month of October. Finally, the last one was installed in the month of February of 2001.

With portraits of America’s founding fathers as a backdrop, descendants of legendary Shoshone leader Chief Washakie danced and drummed in colorful celebration as their ancestor was honored with a larger-than-life bronze monument in the history-rich U.S. Capitol rotunda. The bronze will be permanently displayed in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, Governor Jim Garinger of Wyoming and other dignitaries, including McGary, spoke to a crowd of over 300 persons including many senators and congressmen at the Chief Washakie dedication ceremony on September 7, 2000. Descendants from the Wind River Reservation (Shoshone) at Fort Washakie, Wyoming, and the Flathead Reservation (Salish/Kootensi) in Arlee, Montana, and other Native Americans led the program. A National symbol for all Native Americans, the Chief Washakie monument was in the U.S. Capitol rotunda for up to a year where more than 25,000 people a day viewed the bronze. The only other Native American depicted in the National Statuary Hall Collection at that time is Sequoyah, a bronze donated by Oklahoma in 1917. The rotunda dedication kicked off two days of Washakie-related events in Washington D.C. On September 8, 2000, the Washakie family donated a 28-inch-tall Masterwork of Chief Washakie to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian at the headquarters of its National Museum of the American Indian. Also during the week, an exhibit titled “Legacy in Bronze: The Life of Chief Washakie, The Works of Dave McGary” was displayed in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building.

McGary‘s epic work Battle of Two Hearts, purchased by the state of Wyoming and gifted to the University of Wyoming, was installed in front of Washakie Center on the university campus. The monument is a depiction of Shoshone Chief Washakie before a famous battle with the Crow Chief Big Robber. Washakie emerged the victor of the battle and the battle site was named Crowheart Butte. The chief was instrumental in securing lands and educational rights for his people. The bronze sculpture stands over thirty feet high and was dedicated in the fall of 2005. Portions of the sale of the Masterwork, Maquette, and Bust of this sculpture are being donated by Molly and Dave McGary for scholarships for Shoshone students at The University of Wyoming. Over twenty scholarships have been awarded thus far.

Emergence of The Chief, standing over twenty-four feet, was unveiled in October 2005 on the campus of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada in the heart of Mohawk territory. In Emergence of the Chief Dave depicts a ceremony in which a venerated clan mother of the Mohawk peoples of North America is shown as she circles the chosen chief instructing him in his life-long duties and responsibilities as a leader in the Iroquois Confederacy.

The twice life-size sculpture sits on a six sided engraved stone base, representing the five original nations of the Iroquois Confederacy along with the title panel. The monumental sculpture stands amid the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans, and squash plants) native tobacco plants and running water on the Concordia campus. A portion of proceeds from the sale of Masterwork, Maquette and Bust sizes are being donated by Dave and Molly McGary for a scholarship fund expressly for Mohawk students at Concordia University.

Today, Dave McGary's sculptures are in permanent collections at the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall, the Smithsonian Museum and the White House collection in Washington, D.C. Other monuments are placed at The Houston Astrodome, the Eiteljorg Museum of the American Indian in Indianapolis, the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum in Cody, Wyoming, and The University of Wyoming, Governors Mansion in Cheyenne, Wyoming & the Tribal Office Building at Ft. Washakie Wyoming. Additional installments are placed at the Shinnecock Native Culture Museum in New York, McCord Museum in Montreal Canada, J.W. Marriott Scottsdale, Arizona, Mayo Clinic and Hospital Scottsdale, Arizona, The Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne, and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Biography from Claggett/Rey Gallery:
The following biography has been provided by ClaggettRey.com -

Dave McGary, at 41, is becoming a living legend among contemporary artists of the American West. He is considered the Master of Realism depicting Native American Indians and his many awards during the past decade more than verify his popularity among collectors and fellow artists. His ability to capture the human spirit knows no equal, and his attention to detail in form and historic content are exhilarating.
Dave was born the son of a ranching family in Cody, Wyoming. As a teenager, he was awarded a grant to study anatomy and the bronze making process with master craftsman in Italy. After returning to America in 1978, Dave spent the next three years working a a bronze foundry and finishing facility in the southern mountains of New Mexico.

By 1982, Dave's bronze work began receiving recognition at national art competitions, receiving gold and silver medals for Death Mask, Story of the Little People, My Heart Is The Eagle, War Deeds, Birth Of Long Soldier, and Long Soldier. Two of his bronzes, Horse Thief and Buffalo Warrior are in the permanent collection in the Old Executive Office building at the White House Complex, Washington, D.C.

Dave has been selected by jury twice to show in the prestigious Hubbard Art Award for Excellence Show, where he was one of the most popular artists, selling out his work. His lifesize work, Long Soldier, was selected for public display at the State Capital Building in Santa Fe. He was commissioned by the City of Santa Fe to depict Don Pedro de Peralta, founder of Santa Fe, and his engineer. The one and one-half times lifesize, 18 foot high and 22 foot long monument was installed and dedicated during Fiesta Days in September 1992.

Early in 1995, he constructed his own Finishing Studio and Expressions in Bronze Gallery. In July, Free Spirits at Noisy Water, Dave's monumental sculpture of eight horses running through a natural landscape, was installed at The Museum of the Horse in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. The bronze sculptures and the surrounding park were designed, sculpted and engineered by McGary. Considered an engineering feat, the eight horses, weighing 3,000-5,000 pounds each, are balanced on only nine feet. The Paint Mare with Foal, Arabian, Morgan and Standardbred. One of the largest equine sculptures in the world, it totals 255 feet in length. The top-most horse, the Standardbred, stands more than 36 feet in the air as he leaps from a man-made mountain. In July of 1995, Dave also received the New Mexican of the Year Award, and in October he received the Honorary Lifetime Alumni Award from Eastern New Mexico University for his contributions to the Arts in New Mexico.

In 1996, Dave introduced three new Masterworks, Not Afraid of Pawnee, Young Men of the Enemy Fear His Horses, and The Rainmaker Top-Edition. He also introduced Crow King Study and his third artifact, Lakota Hoofprint.

In March of 1997, Dave premiered Stronghearts, the first bronze in a series of Native American women. Stronghearts portrays a Sioux Mother with her baby son in a beaded cradle board on her back and her young daughter at her side. They represent the surviving family of a Stronghearts Society Warrior who died protecting his family and the tribe. In August, he also premiered his second new image for the year, A Matter Of Honor depicting the famous warrior Crow King on his war horse at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Dave released his new limited edition book in May of 1997 entitled "Dave McGary, American Realism in Bronze: A Twenty Year Retrospective". This limited edition volume features text by noted author Michael Duty, as well as detailed photographs of Dave McGary's works over the past twenty-three years. In addition to the Basic Edition book, dave premiered the second state of The Rainmaker, the Bust. A signed, numbered for all the Collectors who had purchased this piece. During this Gala his Collectors where introduced to the first piece in his Native American Children Series, In Her Father's Footsteps.

On February 22, 1998, Dave installed a 30 foot tall, 15 foot wide monument at the Houston Astrodome. The sculpture, Touch The Clouds, depicts a nineteenth century Miniconjou Chief who fought alongside Crazy Horse at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The project was announced at a ceremony and national media press conference in February of 1996, where Dave unveiled a 43 inch bronze Masterwork of the monument. Although the fine art collection owned by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is extensive, Touch The Clouds will be the first and largest sculpture to portray a Native American.

In 1998, Dave introduced several pieces. the first, released in March, depicted the warrior Gray Hawk and was entitled Bounty of Gray Hawk. walks Among The Stars, the second in his Native American Woman Series, was released in May. Later he released a two-figure piece in which a Stronghearts Society Warrior and his wife are depict in a piece called Hearts of Conviction. Along with these pieces, Dave released the newest addition to his Artifact series, Home Sweet Home, which depicts a field mouse sitting on top of his home, a pair of moccasins.

February 1999, "Iron Hail" premiered featuring a Teton Sioux Warrior. "Iron Hail" was thought to have the power to make it rain and hail on his enemies. August 20, 1999, brought wonderful news to McGary Studios, Dave was selected to sculpt the Shoshone Warrior and Peacemaker, Chief Washakie. There will be three lifesizes completed of Chief Washakie, one in our nations capitol, and the two remaining will be placed at the Wyoming state capitol and at the joint Shoshone and Arapaho Complex in Fort Washakie. In May, "Bounty of Gray Hawk" and "Bear's Nest" masterworks were on loan to the International Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas for the grand opening of the museum. August, saw the completion of Dave's "Symphonies of the Heart", the third in his acclaimed Women Series. It depicts a young Lakota Sioux couple of the mid 1800's and shows an important part of the courting ritual of the Lakota people.



Biography from Meyer Gallery:
"Amazing," "astounding," and "unbelievable detail," are some of the most frequent first words heard when people view renown artist Dave McGary's bronze sculptures of Native Americans. The works are masterpieces of anatomical and historic accuracy. They are also based upon real persons of American history. They are collected by individuals, corporations and institutions on a worldwide basis.

Dave McGary was raised on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. He is now almost 52 years of age. His art career began early in life. At 12, he sculpted in clay. At 16, he received a scholarship to spend a year in Italy studying the human form and the art of bronze casting. Shortly after his return to the U.S., Dave began working at a Santa Fe foundry, and began a friendship with a Sioux artist that contributed significantly to Dave's interest in sculpting the American Indian. Subsequently, Dave was adopted into the Ogala Sioux tribe and given the name Wambalee Tanka, "Big Eagle." But his adopted family on the reservation are more likely to refer to him as "Big Red Ears" because of his predilection for soaking up tales of their ancestors. A McGary bronze is a unique combination of pure American West and classic Renaissance art form of Italy.

Each work contains many elements of historical authenticity, emotion, artistic skill and bronze casting technology. This special combination has been recognized through the placement of works at a wide variety of governmental and corporate locations. Each year, Dave receives numerous requests to execute commissions -- most of which he must turn down due to his schedule and family life (he, his wife Molly and their child divide time between homes in New Mexico and Arizona).
Among the permanent public installations is one that may be seen in Santa Fe's Grant Park. The 14-foot-high work depicts Don Pedro de Peralta and his surveyor as they lay out early Santa Fe. The artist has also been exhibited in a One-man Show at the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington D.C.


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
David McGary

Traditional sculptor of bronze statuettes of Plains Indians, born in Cody, Wyoming in 1958 and living in Alto, New Mexico. “I couldn’t be a painter,” he points out, “and paint on a slick surface. I’d have to use a palette knife to give depth to the strokes. Textures and patinas are important in sculpture. The texture creates contrast between the parts of the piece, and the patina highlights the tones. They give a piece the added depth that I need to really show its feelings.”

He says that a jewelry class in school and sketches in the museum led to study with Harry Jackson in Italy. “I spent my seventeenth birthday there at the base of the Alps,” he observes. “I wanted to work on the details of a piece, but Harry persuaded me to pay more attention to the anatomy of the structure, and it’s really paid off.” When he returned, he established his studio and foundry near Ruidoso, New Mexico, stating that “having all your work done in-house goes a long way to insuring the quality.”

“The historical details are very important to me. I put in three incorrect historical details and challenge my collectors to pick them out. If they can, I give them the piece. I sued to put just one flaw in, but one collector came real close so I started putting in three. That one time got me scared.” In the four years up to 1981, he produced fourteen major bronzes and raised his editions from 15-22, but he is “not going to start increasing those editions jus to make money. I’ve seen where other people have done that and the quality drops. It gets to the point where I don’t dare show anyone a new piece until after I’ve had a show. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have any pieces to show in the galleries.”

Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C.

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