Life and Study
Dave McGary was born in 1958 in Cody, Wyoming and grew up on his family’s ranch. He won a scholarship at the early age of sixteen and traveled to Italy to study authentic bronze-casting as well as anatomy. During this time, Dave McGary learned much from the well-known American sculptor Harry Jackson.
Four years later, Dave returned to the US and worked at a bronze foundry in Santa Fe for 3 years, where he perfected his own style. In 1981, he was able to open his own foundry in New Mexico. Here he made friends with creative students from the institute of American Indian Arts and he began visiting the Lakota Sioux reservation. There, Dave McGary became well acquainted with the Red Elk family and made many lasting friendships.
Later in life, Dave settled in Arizona to live with his wife and their daughter.
Work and Process
It is apparent that Dave’s close relationship with members of local Native American tribes, plus his life experiences, had a significant impact on his artwork.
Dave McGary’s art style was very realistic, from the clothing his subjects wore, to the anatomy of the animals. The facial expressions on the Native American pieces evokes emotions from the viewers and gives the feeling that there is life and soul behind their eyes.
To begin a new sculpture, Dave usually started with steel wire and bases to layout the general underlying shape. On top of this, clay would be layered and the shapes would be formed. Proportions and more defined details would then be worked on.
Finally, the expressions and fine details were perfected, and a completed clay sculpture would remain.
Next, the sculpture would be cut into pieces and molds were made of each piece. Details may have needed to be fixed by the artist at this point to accurately match the original work. Eventually, molten bronze was poured into the finished molds. The bronze pieces were then welded back together to match the original vision. The weld marks were ground down so that the sculpture appeared seamless and all pieces were welded to a base for stability.
Finally, Dave would begin work on the patina. He would heat different areas with a torch and apply chemicals to change the oxidation of the metal and create a variety of metallic colors on the surface. After the patina was finished, Dave McGary would paint base coats on the majority of the sculpture before working on the finished painted details.
Usually Dave would leave the skin tones a rich metallic patina while clothing and animals would be painted in various bright, beautiful colors.
Dave McGary’s Work Today
If you have never seen an original Dave McGary in person, you are definitely missing out! Dave was a very skilled sculptor and had truly defined his own style of work.
Sadly, Dave passed away in October 2013 at the age of 55, at his home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, after battling a rare form of kidney cancer.
Dave McGary’s legacy lives on, bringing a better understanding of Native American cultural through his realistic works of art.
End of the Trail Gallery is proud to house Dave McGary original bronzes.
Call or come by the gallery for more details.
All opinions expressed are meant for entertainment and education. All facts and statements herein are true to the best of our knowledge, though there may be omissions or errors as with any written content.