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Jim Gary, 66; sculptor created his art using junked auto parts

FREEHOLD, N.J. -- Jim Gary, an offbeat artist who created unconventional sculptures such as purple dinosaurs and red ants using auto parts from junkyards, died Sunday at CentraState Medical Center after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage Dec. 12. He was 66.

Mr. Gary gathered car suspensions, brake shoes, and other auto parts and then fashioned the pieces into sculptures, many of them life-size dinosaurs that weigh hundreds of pounds.

In 1990, Mr. Gary was asked by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History to hold a special exhibition of his dinosaur pieces. Larry O'Reilly, an executive producer at the museum who arranged Mr. Gary's exhibit there, described the show as an ''enormous success" that attracted thousands of visitors.

''His dinosaurs were fun, clever, warm, and approachable by kids and a perfect compromise, so to speak, between art and science," O'Reilly said in an e-mail.

Mr. Gary's work also included more serious pieces, such as a bouquet of six roses he completed last year for a Jewish temple to commemorate the Holocaust and a Sept. 11 memorial he created for the community of Colts Neck.

The sculptor, who graduated from Freehold High School in 1961, most recently lived in Farmingdale. He often taught students at Monmouth County schools.

''My kids in school were so inspired with his dinosaur sculptures [that] on Thanksgiving they would have their mothers boil the turkey bones, so that they could bleach them, glue them together, and spray-paint them black," Virginia Landau, a former Holmdel teacher, told the Asbury Park Press.

Mr. Gary leaves a sister and four brothers.

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