Idaho Artists Bringing the West to Life

Pencil sketching of western artist James Castle, from Garden Valley, Idaho

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By KATHLEEN MULROY

Many artists have been celebrated for their vivid depictions of the landscapes and history of the West. Here are a few Western artists from Idaho.

James Castle

James Castle was born in Garden Valley, Idaho, in 1899. Profoundly deaf, he was never taught to read, write, or sign, and he lived as a recluse on his family’s farm.

Castle taught himself to draw, using soot and spit mixed together, and he became particularly known for his drawings of intricately detailed interior scenes and landscapes. He also made striking sculptural constructions from twine, food wrappers, found paper, graphite, string, and ribbon.

After his death in 1977, Castle’s work gained national and international fame through a Philadelphia retrospective in 2008, a large show in Spain in 2011, and a traveling group show called Outliers and American Vanguard Art. The James Castle Collection and Archive in Boise houses thousands of his drawings, constructions, and artifacts.

Rose Frank

Rose Frank, of the Nez Perce tribe, was born in Sweetwater, Idaho, in 1912. After attending a textile arts class as an adult, she became highly skilled at creating corn-husk bags. She went on to practice and teach traditional weaving for more than 40 years, selling many of her unique bags.

Many of her projects featured traditional geometric Nez Perce patterns and used materials like colorful acrylic yarn or dyed twine.

In 1991, Frank received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and she received the Idaho Governor’s Folk Award. Her artwork is displayed in multiple exhibitions and permanent collections, including the Nez Perce National Historical Park Museum and the Smithsonian’s Modern American Indian collection.

Rachel Teannalach

Rachel Teannalach focuses on Idaho’s natural world in her bold landscape paintings, finding much of her inspiration along the hiking trails near her Boise home. Her website says, “Teannalach’s work is guided by the belief that the observation of nature revives our recognition of beauty and restores our sense of belonging in the natural world.”

For the past several years, she has focused on collaborating with land conservation organizations as well as focused on her art. In addition, she donates a portion of the sales of her paintings to a nonprofit, called, Plastic Bank, and uses re-purposed substrates in her paintings.

Teannalach has gallery representation at Capitol Contemporary Gallery in Boise, Idaho, and Echo Arts in Bozeman, Montana. ISI

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