The James Castle House currently features a new exhibition called Hearth and Home, primarily showcasing the soot and spit drawings which Castle is known for.
“Hearth and Home” is a thorough introduction to Castle, highlighting the wide variety of his work but always returning to the intimate connection that exists between his art, and the home he created in.
“This exhibition is all about the bond between place and work,” Kristen Hill, cultural sites program manager for the city of Boise, said.
Hill suggested thinking about what a material time capsule of your life would look like, prior to visiting the exhibition. The Castle House has literally served as a time capsule of sorts for the Castle family, undergoing three years of renovations throughout which eleven different pieces of art were discovered hidden within the walls.
The house itself is always a theme in Castle’s art, he returns to drawing it again and again, often using materials foraged from the property or collected from his family. He would use soot scrapped from the stove, and paper from the homework assignments of his nieces and nephews. The pieces in this exhibition beautifully demonstrate Castle’s unique perspective of objects, place and language.
“One work that was found inside the walls is this incredible 1940s soot and spit drawing of the house,” Hill said. “This piece has beautiful linear perspective and serves as a perfect example of what the show is about.”
While “Hearth and Home” can be viewed digitally on the Castle House website, for those who can view his works in person, it is worth it.
“It’s completely different to see the works in person,” Hill said. “You get little glimpses of the artist’s hand; it feels really different and feels immediate.”
The Castle House provides a unique opportunity to view art that is very much about investigating specific spaces and moments, within the very same walls that inspired this reflection.
“It’s all the things you’re not consciously aware of,” Hill said. “There’s a sound quality, there’s a smell, there are tangible but subconscious factors that impact your experience.”
In addition to rotating exhibitions, the Castle House welcomes artists each year through the residency program. Residencies give artists the opportunity to live on site for a few weeks to create in a supportive environment, learn from Castle and his legacy, and respond in their own work.
Current artist in residence Maria Michurina moved from Russia to the U.S. in 2010 with her husband; they now live in Redmond, Washington. Michurina is a mixed media artist dedicated to storytelling through collage, painting and quilting.
“I was born in Russia, in Moscow, and my parents were physicists,” Michurina said. “So at first I chose mathematics as my pathway, and it’s still a part of my life now.”
It was after moving to the U.S. that Michurina took her first art class, and since then she has been unable to stop creating.
“I don’t worry too much about the materials I’m using,” Michurina said. “Just whatever is nearby, whatever gives some color or some value that works.”
Michurina said she loves using the press to make prints in the studio since, at home she has been using a wooden spoon.
“I feel like 5 years old,” Michurina said. “I get up every morning, and I want to do something. And no matter how silly it is, what I want to do and what I want to make, I just go to the studio and make it. I’ve never had an experience like this, maybe when I was five years old. So this is a very happy time.”
Michurina described her relationship with museums as places of great inspiration to her.
Wherever she has traveled, from Russia, to New York, to London, she has found and wandered through every museum she could. Her enduring love of art for arts sake, and her pursuit of learning and growth is truly inspiring, and is reflected in each brush stroke and stitch of her work. To view Michurina’s art visit mariamichurina.com.
Michurina is hosting events at the James Castle House every Saturday in March from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as well as a final presentation on Saturday, April 8, all events are free and open to the public.
This spring the James Castle House commemorates its five-year anniversary, with a celebration planned for Saturday, April 29, more details to be released. Check the Castle House website, jamescastlehouse.org to learn more.