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[BKARTS] James Castle DVD

CENTER NEWS / September 12, 2008
Release online: http://news.boisestate.edu 


The Idaho Center for the Book, housed at Boise State University, has
released *James Castle: Dream House,* a DVD about the prolific,
self-taught Idaho artist. 

*James Castle: Dream House* includes interviews with Castle*s
family, childhood friends, artists and art professors, gallery directors
and curators - as well as more than 100 images of rare historical
photographs and never-seen Castle art works. Produced by Boise State
professor Tom Trusky, Castle*s biographer, this DVD takes an intimate
look at an artist who was largely unrecognized during his own lifetime.

Castle was born in Garden Valley, Idaho, in 1899. He was thought to be
deaf throughout most of his life, as well as mute, mentally challenged
and illiterate. Contemporary medical and art experts such as Dr. Uta
Frith and Roger Cardinal believe Castle was autistic and perhaps able to
hear, but unable to process sounds despite his ability to vocalize.
Analysis of his work suggests that Castle was highly intelligent and
possessed limited reading and writing abilities. 

Castle was sent to the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind in 1910 and
studied there for at least five years. His family says that they were
told to keep art supplies from their son and to encourage him to learn
to speak, sign, fingerspell and read lips - all of which the educators
had been unable to teach him. Other reports suggest the family was
always in need of help and that they withdrew their son from school and
attempted to make a ranch hand out of him. Castle would have none of it
and instead busied himself making his own art supplies. He fashioned
sharpened sticks and twigs into pens and made ink from stove soot and
saliva, using found paper as canvases and book pages. 

Castle began making *dream houses* - for which the DVD is named -
in the 1940s. These small drawings, if black-and-white, were fancifully
fashioned homes with polka-dot roofs and tweed, plaid or herringbone
siding. For color dream houses, Castle used apricot pits to scrape the
wax coating from dairy containers; he would then wet colored paper and
laboriously rub the tinctures into the feathery, scraped container
surfaces. His family realized he was trying to communicate with them and
purchased a small mobile home for him in 1963. He worked in his dream
house for more than a decade. 
Castle devoted himself to making art for more than 60 years. Although
briefly *discovered* in the 1960s, the self-taught artist was
largely unrecognized during his lifetime. He died in obscurity in 1977
in Boise. Castle left behind more than 20,000 artworks. A dedication
exhibition at the Idaho Center for the Book in Boise in 1994 featured
the first display of Castle books; his work has gone on to gather
international attention. 

*James Castle: Dream House* was directed by Boise State professor
Peter Lutze and Rod Cashin of Academic Technologies and authored by Paul
Brand of Pretty Good Productions in Coeur d*Alene, Idaho. It is $19.95
and available for purchase through the Boise State Bookstore and
Amazon.com. For more information, call Trusky at (208) 426-1999. 


Media Contact: Julie Hahn, University Communications, (208) 426-5540,

Boise State University is *The New U Rising* with record student
enrollment, new academic buildings, additional degree programs and a
growing research agenda. Learn more at www.boisestate.edu. 

           NOW ONLINE, The Bonefolder, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2008 at
             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
         See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information.

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