Jim Gary (March 17, 1939 – January 14, 2006) was an American sculptor popularly known for his large, colorful creations of dinosaurs made from discarded automobile parts. These sculptures were typically finished with automobile paint although some were left to develop a natural patina during display outdoors.
He was also recognized internationally for his fine, architectural, landscape, and whimsical monumental art as well as abstracts. Sculpture and life figures by Gary often included intricate use of stained glass and his works were frequently composed of, or included, hardware, machine parts, and tools. He employed painted steel in many works, it being his metal of choice.
One of his signature works, Universal Woman, a life-sized figure of a woman composed entirely of hardware gained the admiration of renowned sculptor Jacques Lipchitz at a sidewalk show in New York in the early 1960s. Both are modernist sculptors. The Washington Post featured a zoom image from their files of this sculpture in its electronic edition of their 2006 tribute to Gary at his death. A 1971 museum exhibit of his fine art in Washington, D.C. was cited in his listing in Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, a standard library art reference. In 2011 the Asbury Park Press referred to Gary as an icon in the arts.
Jim Gary is the only sculptor ever invited to present a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., which opened on April 12, 1990. In January 2006, Time stated that Gary’s work “delighted kids as well as curators, including those at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where he had an acclaimed solo show in 1990.”