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Thomas Chambers
Packet Ship Passing Castle Williams, New York Harbor
ca. 1838-45
National Gallery of Art
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by N.F. Karlins

Let’s face it. Soot-and-spit drawings aren’t common, even in today’s anything-goes art scene. Nor are layered constructions made with tarpaper and twine. Yet both types of work are common in the oeuvre of James Castle (1899-1977), the famously deaf artist from Boise, Idaho, and both are avidly collected. Striking works in both media can be seen in "James Castle: A Retrospective," now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 14, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009.