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[BKARTS] James Castle Presentation
BOISE STATE PROFESSOR TO GIVE PRESENTATION ON BOOK ARTIST JAMES CASTLE
Boise State University Hemingway Center Director and Director of the
Idaho Center for the Book, Tom Trusky, will deliver "The Art of James
Castle," a slide/lecture presentation 21 July 2005 in the Rude Girls
Room of the Sandpoint Library (1407 Cedar Street, Sandpoint, Idaho) at
Trusky is an expert on the Idaho artist. Castle was born in 1899 in
Garden Valley and was labeled for his entire life as deaf, mute,
illiterate and mentally challenged. He is now thought to have been
autistic. He never learned to speak, had a limited ability to read and
write and seemingly refused to be taught to sign. His primary form of
communication was the tens of thousands of drawings and illustrations
he produced during his lifetime.
Houses, domestic scenes, family members and friends were endlessly
rendered in what some have termed a primitive "folk art" style from
crude tools and supplies-ink made from soot and saliva, pens fashioned
from twigs or sticks, and canvases scavenged from scrap paper,
cardboard, books and the many catalogs that flowed through his
general store and post office. Even when, late in his career, family,
friends, curators and artists purchased paints and brushes for him, he
preferred to make his own tools.
Amazingly, although unschooled, he was able to grasp the concept of
several artistic principles, including vanishing point perspective.
Largely undiscovered and unappreciated during his lifetime, he is now
considered by many art historians to prefigure a number of major
schools and -isms off 20th century art.
Trusky's presentation will focus on Castle's earliest surviving works,
the Icehouse Books. These rare books (approximately 20 in number) were
stored by the apparently autistic artist (b. 1899 in Garden Valley-d.
1977 in Boise) for safekeeping in the thick, sawdust-filled walls of
the family icehouse in Garden Valley. All were made from found papers
and cardboards, illustrated with pencil and sharpened stick/twig pens
and ink made from soot and saliva-then hand bound with string and
twine. The Castle family departed Garden Valley for Boise Valley in
1924 and Castle's books were left behind. Circa 1970, as the icehouse
was being dismantled and burned, some works were retrieved by Garden
Valley residents, most notably Bill Pogue, the Idaho Fish and Game
Warden later murdered by Claude Dallas. Other works were sent to
residents in Sugar City and survived the Teton Dam disaster in 1976.
Trusky traces the history of these books that have survived ice, fire,
and flood-and sketches the histories of their various owners, including
an eighth grade public school teacher, her star pupil
(penitentiary-bound), and the nefarious art dealer who stole and
dis-assembled books. It's an all-Idaho story about the Gem State's most
famous artist/bookmaker and the miraculous survival of works that
reveal the artist as a young man.
The presentation will be followed by a social hour. Copies of Trusky's
recently-published biography, James Castle: His Life & Art, facsimiles
of Castle books, and a video documentary on the artist will be on
For additional information, please contact Lost Horse Press at
208.255.4410, email losthorsepress@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, or check out this
and other Lost Horse Press events online at www.losthorsepress.org.
Lost Horse Press
105 Lost Horse Lane
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
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