1939 – Jim Gary Born
If you grew up in the late ’80s/early ’90s, you know that today’s television dinosaur documentaries seem awfully straightforward. A few CGI sequences and interviews with paleontologists are all you really need for a compelling program. But in those halcyon, pre-Jurassic Park days, dinosaur programming needed to adopt a collage approach. In an hour, you were almost guaranteed to see a number of things–fine paleo-art, excellent footage of mounted dinosaur skeletons in the great natural history museums, maybe an animated chase sequence or two, some black and white footage from King Kong or The Lost World, and more often than not, a look at Jim Gary’s dinosaur sculptures. What was so intriguing about them? They were made from automobile parts.
Gary, one of 11 children, took an interest in taking today’s scrapyards and turning them into works of art–lifesize dinosaur sculptures. Brake shoes became feet. Axles became femurs. Gary said it might take ten cars to make a dinosaur, and just one of his creations might take him a year.
Along with his metallic 20th century dinosaurs, Gary became a beloved figure in dinophile, museum, art, and even automotive communities. His work appeared in exhibitions across the United States for decades, along with appearances in national publications.
After his untimely passing at the age of 66, Gary lives on in the hearts and minds of those who cherished his work–and in the generations to come who will continue to marvel at his metallic dinosaurs.