Artist Legacy and Historical Significance
By Kayli Corbin
Photography Kimberlee Miller
Art is something we can all relate to. It is a tool for us to share our experience and elicit understanding in others. The James Castle House is a way for our community to experience the unique life of James Castle, learn about our history, and reflect on the ways we interact with the world around us. Castle’s wonder and observation are found in every corner of this house.
James Castle was born in Garden Valley in 1899. Being one of seven children and born deaf allowed him to be excused from many household chores. Although he attended the Gooding School for the Deaf and Blind, he never learned proficient use of language. After five years of attendance, he left school and his family moved to farmland near Star. In 1931 James and his mother moved to the still-standing James Castle House.
The spirit of agriculture is strong throughout Castle’s body of work and in the community surrounding the house. Signs for farm fresh eggs and fresh local honey adorn Castle Street as you approach the house, reminding you of the standing importance farming has had through the decades and in Castle’s works. When speaking with Rachel Reichert, Cultural Sites Manager with Boise City Department of Arts & History, she explained that “We get to be the conduit of that spirit.” A presence that is so thoroughly weaved in all the creations of James Castle.
Castle’s mediums were things found in his environment and his muses were all things observational. A standing exhibit, The Material Life of James Castle, showcases items that have never been on display before. Many of them found at Castle’s Boise home during its restoration. Bits of art covered by years of renovation, a variety of tools used in creation, and pieces of inspiration Castle found in his everyday life shed light into his creative process and self-expression.
The James Castle House offers residencies for creatives of all means to immerse themselves in the home and life of James Castle. Offering 3-month summer and winter residencies allows artists an extended stay and the ability to create a comprehensive body of work during their time in the house. Residencies are offered to anyone living in the United States. Kristen Hill, the Cultural Sites Program Coordinator, leads the Artist-in-Residence programs and is excited to facilitate an open studio every Saturday from 1-3 PM in June and July, showcasing the current artist-in-residence. Shorter residencies are also available for those looking for less of a commitment.