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James Castle in Philadelphia

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  • mandreox
    James Castle (1899-1977) was a outsider who spent his life on his family s farms in Idaho. He used spit and soot and sticks to draw. He uses all sorts of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 10, 2009
      James Castle (1899-1977) was a outsider who spent his life on his
      family's farms in Idaho. He used spit and soot and sticks to draw. He
      uses all sorts of common papers. Then, more interestingly, he recycled
      cardboard logo-smeared commercial packaging. He sews such cardboard
      into a flat sculpture which winningly evoke, say, a Marisol maquette.

      When I arrived at McGill in 1964, I rambled about Mount Royal, and
      happened on a cemetery where I found piles of discarded tombstones.
      They were of a uniform early twentieth century vintage with a French
      Canadian name, dates of birth and death, and the phrase <<sourd-muet.>
      Deaf mute. Yikes! Political incorrectness through eternity? But the
      Archdiocese of Montreal had clearly repented this insensitivity. It
      was in 1964 deconsecrated rubble. I carted a stone home as a memento mori.

      My son's mother is a sign-language interpreter. The Castle show is a
      hands-on favorite with Philadelphia's disabled. Remember the pinball
      wizard who happened to be deaf, dumb and blind? Tommy? Castle
      focused. He saw more than most artists, although he heard nothing and
      spoke nary a word. He spent a few years at an Idaho school for the
      deaf but he soon rebelled. He never learned to sign. He was illiterate.

      He was fascinated by man's creation. He mastered perspective and loved
      alphabets. Of course, as well as a large loving Catholic family, he
      knew farm animals personally. He made charming sculptures of chickens,
      daffy ones of ducks, grand ones of geese. He explored metaphysical
      nooks with the simplest of means. As an adult, he re-drew a photo from
      his own childhood. It is his only self-portrait. There are a few
      slightly erotic collages. Did he improve his lot? Or merely ponder it
      all? I suspect he was a happy man.

      [Here's a link to the Philly Art Blog and the original of this piece
      plus many photos: --
      http://fallonandrosof.blogspot.com/2008/12/james-castle-outsider-and-perhaps-happy.html
      The retrospective at the Philadelphia Art Museum closed January 4.]
    • Jeff Wright
      Jaysus, I hope you re keeping a record of these spiral rambling thickets of wikershire shirrings.
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 20, 2009
        Jaysus, I hope you're keeping a record of these spiral rambling thickets of wikershire shirrings.


        --- On Sat, 1/10/09, mandreox <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

        > From: mandreox <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
        > Subject: [Unmuzzled Ox] James Castle in Philadelphia
        > To: unmuzzledox@yahoogroups.com
        > Date: Saturday, January 10, 2009, 10:45 AM
        > James Castle (1899-1977) was a outsider who spent his life
        > on his
        > family's farms in Idaho. He used spit and soot and
        > sticks to draw. He
        > uses all sorts of common papers. Then, more interestingly,
        > he recycled
        > cardboard logo-smeared commercial packaging. He sews such
        > cardboard
        > into a flat sculpture which winningly evoke, say, a Marisol
        > maquette.
        >
        > When I arrived at McGill in 1964, I rambled about Mount
        > Royal, and
        > happened on a cemetery where I found piles of discarded
        > tombstones.
        > They were of a uniform early twentieth century vintage with
        > a French
        > Canadian name, dates of birth and death, and the phrase
        > <<sourd-muet.>
        > Deaf mute. Yikes! Political incorrectness through eternity?
        > But the
        > Archdiocese of Montreal had clearly repented this
        > insensitivity. It
        > was in 1964 deconsecrated rubble. I carted a stone home as
        > a memento mori.
        >
        > My son's mother is a sign-language interpreter. The
        > Castle show is a
        > hands-on favorite with Philadelphia's disabled.
        > Remember the pinball
        > wizard who happened to be deaf, dumb and blind? Tommy?
        > Castle
        > focused. He saw more than most artists, although he heard
        > nothing and
        > spoke nary a word. He spent a few years at an Idaho school
        > for the
        > deaf but he soon rebelled. He never learned to sign. He was
        > illiterate.
        >
        > He was fascinated by man's creation. He mastered
        > perspective and loved
        > alphabets. Of course, as well as a large loving Catholic
        > family, he
        > knew farm animals personally. He made charming sculptures
        > of chickens,
        > daffy ones of ducks, grand ones of geese. He explored
        > metaphysical
        > nooks with the simplest of means. As an adult, he re-drew a
        > photo from
        > his own childhood. It is his only self-portrait. There are
        > a few
        > slightly erotic collages. Did he improve his lot? Or merely
        > ponder it
        > all? I suspect he was a happy man.
        >
        > [Here's a link to the Philly Art Blog and the original
        > of this piece
        > plus many photos: --
        > http://fallonandrosof.blogspot.com/2008/12/james-castle-outsider-and-perhaps-happy.html
        > The retrospective at the Philadelphia Art Museum closed
        > January 4.]
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