Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Preservation Begins at Idaho Home of Artist James Castle

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Preservation Begins at Idaho Home of Artist James Castle

Article excerpt

BOISE, Idaho * The Idaho home of James Castle, much like his artwork, is easy to miss at first glance.

Tucked away in a quiet, residential neighborhood in Boise, the century-old home sits idle and vacant. But inside, officials working to restore the self-taught artist's residence say there is much more inside the aging framework than meets the eye.

"Anything with a print is potentially part of his story," said Byron Folwell, an architect and public artist working on the renovation project. "Down to even the patterns on the floor, his surroundings were part of his artwork, which means we have to be careful about everything we do."

Castle's collections have traveled to the Smithsonian in Washington and to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and across seas to art galleries in Tokyo and London.

But while the international art world has long admired the artist, his home located on Castle Drive nearly missed the opportunity to become just as celebrated as the rest of his collections.

That's why the city of Boise is currently in the middle of a massive restoration project to preserve the noted artist's home site and give more opportunities for the public to learn about the native Idahoan.

Earlier this year, the city bought the Castle house and grounds, which includes the artist's bunkhouse.

"This is a symbol of making do with what you have," said Rachel Reichert, community relations manager for the Boise Department of Arts and History.

The project has been painstaking and tedious. Anything from a pattern on the ceiling or designs on aging wallpaper are possible forms of inspiration for Castle's work, essentially making the entire property a living art piece.

Bags of paper confetti found in the ceiling and walls have been collected to be sifted through and potentially cataloged. Empty matchbooks discarded in a hole by the floor match those in some of Castle's drawings, Reichert said.

Castle was born in 1899 and died in 1977.

Born deaf and mute, the self-taught artist's drawings were made with a sharpened stick dipped in saliva and soot scraped from a woodstove. …

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