Dave McGary – A legacy in bronze realism (1958-2013)
“How I want to be remembered… For having documented, with respect, the culture of Native American people For being innovative and establishing my own techniques and style of work. I hope I have changed the way people look at bronze sculpture. For showing that there really are no limits in what is possible in bronze, that we can capture an amazing amount of detail and depth of color for another level of realism” – Dave McGary
Dave McGary’s sculptures do not have a heartbeat. They do not draw breath. They are bronze, not flesh and bone. Although it’s hard to be sure because of the staggering realism he incorporated into his creations. McGary sculpted proud historically authentic Native Americans. Sizes range from tabletop busts to large-scale monuments, yet all share the same unexpected depths of textures and splashes of color that defy the essence of the medium.
The sculptures are entirely bronze. They are not adorned with accouterments despite what a first glance leads you to believe. The beaded fabric, rumpled leather clothing and feathered headdresses are bronze. Those slender strips of fringe and impossibly wispy feathers don’t rustle at the slightest provocation. Run your fingers over the intricate beading, the folds of the material and you feel only the coolness of metal.
But don’t blame failing eyesight for the uncertainty. Considered the Master of Realism, Dave McGary conjured up vivid and thought-provoking historic figures for over three decades. Yet sometimes the most powerful element of his work was the unseen. Motion and momentum are captured in every piece. The laws of physics are in play. You feel the tug of gravity. The sculpture seems quietly alert.
Just as you start to turn away, a flicker of movement seems to catch your eye. Impossible. Was it the hair or the feathers or…? You peer closer and it finally dawns on you. Somehow, McGary 11 managed to sculpt the wind.
His exquisite depictions of Native Americans occupy places of honor in an array of prestigious settings, including the Smithsonian Museum, the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Wyoming State Capital, the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum, the Gene Autry Museum, Concordia University and many more.
Just as importantly as any of the formal accolades, McGary American tribes gained the respect and affection of the Native and families depicted in his work.
“That’s the thing I’m most proud of,” McGary said. “They trust me to produce their history in bronze and to document their history in bronze”“My techniques and ideas meet with a lot of resistance. When someone tells me I can’t do something, then I consider it a challenge to find a way to do it!”
When explorers and clergymen first landed on the shores of the”New World” they documented in their diaries and journals descriptions of the Native peoples they encountered descriptions of honesty, generosity, bravery, respect, humility, family-oriented and spiritual. In 1492 Columbus described the Indigenous inhabitants as “so peaceable, are these people that I swear to your Majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with a smile and though it is true that they are naked, yet their manners are decorous and praiseworthy. In his journals Columbus wrote of the peaceful,generous nature of these Native people. In today’s world there are people who recognize the good qualities that existed among the Native people before Columbus’s arrival, values that still exist today. One of those people is Dave McGary.“My techniques and ideas meet with a lot of resistance. When someone tells me I can’t do something, then I consider it a challenge to find a way to do it!”