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James Castle: Portrait of an Artist - art documentary DVD / biography documentary DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: James Castle, John Yau, Robert Storr, Terry Winters, John Ollman
Director: Jeffrey Wolf   Distributor: First Run Features
DVD release: 23 June 2009   Runtime: 53 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD, NTSC, Widescreen
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Stereo - English), Bonus interviews, Image gallery, Resources for educators, Trailers

Written, directed, and produced by Jeffrey Wolf, James Castle: Portrait of an Artist delves into the life, inspiration, and artistry of James Castle.

Born deaf in rural in Idaho in 1899, Castle used what he had around him to create his pieces. He was able to invent his own instruments and, with the use of soot and a little bit of spit, he created drawings that evinced artistic skills like proportion, shadowing, and perspective - all of which was self-taught.

It's clear to see that this documentary was a labor of love for Wolf. Castle's work emerged in the art world after he had passed on, so the people giving voice to his work are surviving family members and art critics. The family members give fond rememberances of Castle as a person. The art critics give insight into his work, which was of a time that was slipping away and of a place that was simple, yet beautiful and natural.

I didn't know anything about James Castle or his work before watching this documentary, so this was a fully illuminating experience on the man and his art. Concise, educational, and thought-provoking, James Castle: Portrait of an Artist is a fantastic documentary for those interested in learning more about Castle, and for the art lover in the family.
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reviewed by Bobby Blades
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