Self taught artist Jim Gary has been designing dinosaurs (and many other things) from automobile parts for many years now. He recently took them on a world wide tour called 20th Century Dinosaurs. The dinosaurs in these photos are on display in his front and side yard (when they’re not on tour), and sell for as much as $150,000. Gary also designed the Colts Neck 9/11 Memorial.
UPDATE: I stopped by his home in 2005, and he was there but had no time to talk. He graciously gave me and a friend permission to walk around his property and take photos. It was my intent to followup and interview him, but sadly he passed away in January of 2006 before I had a chance to return. Learn more about Jim Gary at his website which goes in much greater detail of his life and his art.
The following is an excerpt from a NY Times article that ran upon his death.
This is from a NY Times article which was published after his death in January 2006.
Jim Gary, an internationally noted sculptor in metal whose best-known work transformed the skeletons of derelict cars into the hulking, playful and surprisingly graceful skeletons of dinosaurs, died on Saturday in Freehold, N.J. He was 66 and lived in Farmingdale, N.J. The cause was complications of a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered last month, said Arlene Berg, a longtime friend and Mr. Gary’s former business manager.
For the last three decades, Mr. Gary made his art from the detritus of postwar American consumer culture. Entirely self-taught, he haunted junkyards, where he dug up the bones of familiar bygone species – the gas-guzzling behemoths that roamed the earth in the 1950s, 60s and 70s – to reassemble them into far more exotic ones. Old Chryslers, he often said, made the finest dinosaurs. Welded by hand and painted in vivid colors, Mr. Gary’s sculptures were almost life-size, as much as 60 feet long and 20 feet high. Each comprised hundreds of car parts – it could take 10 automobiles to build a single dinosaur – and took up to a year to complete. His largest pieces sold for close to $100,000, Ms. Berg said.
Featured frequently in the news, Mr. Gary’s art has been exhibited at museums throughout the country, among them the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Boston Children’s Museum. A traveling exhibition of his work, “20th-Century Dinosaurs,” has toured worldwide since the late 1970s. In Mr. Gary’s surgically precise anatomy, a brake shoe became a foot, an oil pan a jaw, an axle a femur. He turned leaf springs into rib cages and generator fans into huge lash-ringed eyes. For the spinal plates of a stegosaurus, he used part of a garbage truck’s compactor. For its tail spikes, he used Chevrolet shock absorbers. He also built smaller pieces, among them humpbacked turtles that began life as Volkswagen Beetles.
Mr. Gary’s other work included furniture, stained glass and a widely exhibited sculpture, “Universal Woman,” a sinuous female torso made of welded-together metal washers. The recipient of many commissions for art in public spaces, he designed the Sept. 11 memorial for Colts Neck, N.J., unveiled in 2002.
James Gary was born in Sebastian, Fla., on March 17, 1939, and grew up in Colts Neck. He was the second of 11 children of Charles Gary, a farmer and mason, and the former Lula Belle Beale, a domestic worker. An inveterate tinkerer even as a youth, Jim built a bicycle and – long before he was old enough to drive – several automobiles from spare parts. Educated in New Jersey public schools, Mr. Gary did a stint in the Navy, where he trained as an aviation mechanic. He later taught welding and gymnastics for the Job Corps before making his first sculptures in the early 1970s. Mr. Gary is survived by a sister, Maudine Weston of Fairfield, Calif.; and by four brothers: Charles, of Nashville; Robert, of Asbury Park, N.J.; Arthur, of Pinole, Calif.; and Carl, of Loxahatchee, Fla.
Because of the scale of his pieces, Mr. Gary had to build special equipment to assemble and move them. Much of this, too, was made from salvaged auto parts. To transport his work from one city to the next he used an enormous flatbed trailer. Curious drivers often followed the dinosaurs down the road for miles