Boise is taking the next step in preserving the house where Idaho artist James Castle lived and worked. The city broke ground Tuesday on the next phase of construction on the site.
Castle lived in Boise’s Pierce Park neighborhood for decades, starting in the 1930s. He was born deaf and found that his art was a tool for expression and communication.
Rachel Reichert is the Arts & History Cultural Sites Manager for Boise. She says Castle produced handmade drawings and figures using ink made of ashes and spit and found materials at his home.
“Magazine clippings, cardboard boxes, butter wrappers, very well known for working on matchbooks. Materials that have some kind of substance on one side, so an advertisement or printed media, and a blank side on the other half,” says Reichert.
She says the city bought the house in 2015 to preserve the space and turn it into a cultural center.
“We’re not only just sharing and promoting the story and life and work of James Castle, but we’re also promoting early American life and the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap kind of approach to what it meant to be an Idahoan in the 20s and 30s and 40s,” says Reichert.
Along with preserving the site, the city is building a studio space for a planned artist-in-residence program and an exhibition space for Castle’s work on the site.
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