James Castle home to provide space for emerging artists

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-09 21:08:25-04

One of Idaho's most internationally known artists was both deaf and mute. Forty years after his death, the legacy of James Castle will live on through a preservation project that is just getting underway. 

Before renovation work begins in Jan. of 2017 on the home where Castle lived in Boise, archeologists have been brought in to scout out the area for any historical gems. Castle and his family moved to Boise in the early 1930s from the Garden Valley area where he was born in 1899.

Match books and wooden sticks Castle used to create his masterpieces had already been recovered. He was very well known for scraping soot from the wood fireplace and mixing it with his saliva to create an ink.

The team is focused on areas around the house of which will be unearthed and a shed where Castle is said to have spent most of his time.

While digging into the ground and keeping track of where items are found, they're not really sure what they will find. But, ultimately, the crew is hoping to get some clues as to how he lived.

"What was James Castle's.. just the fabric of his daily life," asked Mark Warner, chair of the sociology and anthropology department at the University of Idaho. "And, that's what the stuff that we pull out of the ground can hopefully tell us something about."

The house is expected to debut to the public in Oct. of 2017. It will be a place for artists to go, work and be inspired with a heritage garden on the grounds filled with period authentic plants.

Visitors can learn more about the Pierce Park Neighborhood, about Castle and the legacy he left behind.

"A lot of his work is kind of landscape based," said Rachel Reichert, James Castle home site manager for the City of Boise Department of Arts and History. "So, there are a lot of really great drawings that reference this area, this house, the outbuildings and, in particular, his time here in Boise."

"This is someone using things and thinking about things in a very different way than everyone just assumes," Warner added.

The archeologists will be working at the Castle house through Wednesday, Oct. 12. The public is welcome to stop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn more about the project.