Dave McGary (sculptor) (1958-2013)

Dave McGary (sculptor) (1958-2013)

Battle at Bear Paw (masterwork & maquette)
bronze with patina and paint
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'Battle at Bear Paw' Chief Joseph 1877 MW: 37.5"h x 22.5"w x 15.5"d MQ: 25"h x 15"w x 10.35"d Colonel Nelson A. Miles left Fort Keogh on September 18 in pursuit of Chief Joseph with a force of 520 soldiers, civilian employees, and scouts, including about 30 Indian scouts, mostly Cheyenne but with a few Lakota (Teton Sioux). Some of the Indian scouts had fought against Custer in the Battle of the Little Big Horn only 15 months earlier, but had subsequently surrendered to Miles. On September 25, Colonel Miles received a dispatch informing him of the Cow Creek fight and that the Nez Perce had crossed the Missouri going north. He changed his plans, crossed the Missouri, and headed toward the northern side of the Bear Paw Mountains to intercept Chief Joseph. Colonel Miles said of the battle at Bear Paw that 'The fight was the most fierce of any Indian engagement I have ever been in...The whole Nez Perce movement is unequalled in the history of Indian warfare.' For reasons never clarified by Colonel Miles, Chief Joseph was taken prisoner immediately after negotiations ended. In a strange circumstance of fate, Lt. Lowell Jerome had been allowed entry into the Nez Perce camp and was roaming unharmed. When the Nez Perce learned Chief Joseph was being held, they captured the young lieutenant. Rather than killing him as some in the village wanted to do, the Nez Perce offered to trade him for Chief Joseph. Whatever plan Colonel Miles had for Chief Joseph was forgotten. On the morning of October 2, Lt. Jerome and Chief Joseph were exchanged under a flag of truce. It is claimed that the stunning coat as depicted in this bronze, was given to second Lt. Jerome by Chief Joseph; this jacket was worn by Chief Joseph during the battle and siege at Bear Paw. Lt. Jerome donated this coat to his alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point where it now is on display in the museums permanent collection. His war coat made of red trade wool believed to have been obtained from the Sioux has polished brass trade buttons sewn in a distinct pattern all over the coat. Chief Joseph wore this coat in numerous battles and added the white ermines that was a favorite and distinctive adornment of the Nez Perce's regalia.His war bonnet inspired from photographs has a long trailer of honor feathers that confirms his accomplishments among his people and in battle. His moccasins are beaded with a traditional and beautiful beadwork designs of the Nez Perce. Along with the Crow, the Nez Perce were greatly admired for their artistry in regalia and were always desired in trades or sought as trophies in warfare. The Martingale the Chief holds is worn around the neck of his favorite war horse. Made out of trade wool and ornately beaded and decorated with hawk bells. This was a striking way the Nez Perce enhanced the beauty of their horses.The Nez Perce were horse rich, having acquired this 'miracle animal' over a century earlier from trade with the Shoshone. Once horses were brought back to Nez Perce country, they were selectively bred for the best short-legged stock that could endure long trips up and down the mountainous terrain of their traditional homeland. In time, these horses would be given the name of 'Appaloosa,' often distinguished by their coat pattern with sprinkles of white or large dark spots on lighter bodies.I sculpted the thirty foot tall monument of Chief Washakie for the University of Wyoming during his famous battle against the Crow Chief Big Robber for the rights to stay in the Wind River Valley of Wyoming. This very important part of Wyoming's history known as 'The Battle at Crow Heart Butte', was won by Chief Washakie. He rode an appaloosa war horse that was a gift from Chief Joseph and always gave much of the credit for his victory to the powerful war horse he rode that historical day. The friendship between Chief Joseph and Washakie was the source of inspiration for this sculpture.


About The Artist

Dave McGary (sculptor) (1958-2013)

"Amazing," "astounding," and "unbelievable detail," are some of the most frequent first words heard when people view renown artist Dave McGary's bronze sculptures of Native Americans.  The works are masterpieces of anatomical and historic accuracy.  They are also based upon real persons of American history.  They are collected by individuals, corporations and institutions on a worldwide basis.  
 
Dave McGary was raised on a cattle ranch in Wyoming.  His art career began early in life.  At 12, he sculpted in clay.  At 16, he received a scholarship to spend a year in Italy studying the human form and the art of bronze casting.  Shortly after his return to the U.S., Dave began working at a Santa Fe foundry, and began a friendship with a Sioux artist that contributed significantly to Dave's interest in sculpting the American Indian.  Subsequently, Dave was adopted into the Ogala Sioux tribe and given the name Wambalee Tanka, "Big Eagle." But his adopted family on the reservation are more likely to refer to him as "Big Red Ears" because of his predilection for soaking up tales of their ancestors.  A McGary bronze is a unique combination of pure American West and classic Renaissance art form of Italy.  
 
Each work contains many elements of historical authenticity, emotion, artistic skill and bronze casting technology. This special combination has been recognized through the placement of works at a wide variety of governmental and corporate locations.  Each year, Dave receives numerous requests to execute commissions -- most of which he must turn down due to his schedule and family life (he, his wife Molly and their child divide time between homes in New Mexico and Arizona).  
 
Among the permanent public installations is one that may be seen in Santa Fe's Grant Park.  The 14-foot-high work depicts Don Pedro de Peralta and his surveyor as they lay out early Santa Fe. The artist has also been exhibited in a One-man Show at the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington D.C.   
 
Meyer Gallery is pleased to display the magnificent bronzes of renown sculptor Dave McGary.

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