Sunday, January 21, 2018

Major Master

Wendell Castle ( 1932-2018 )
master of wood work and so much more..

This new year, I am sorry to say, has started with sad news of the passing of my valued colleague at Rochester Institute of Technology, here in Rochester, New York.  Wendell Castle was 85 years old, and had just been celebrated for the past three months with an exhibition and book  ( Wendell Castle Remastered ) at The Memorial Art Gallery here in town.

Wendell Castle at work in Scottsville, NY

When I first arrived here to teach at R.I.T. in the late 1980s, I was well aware of the work of Wendell Castle, having admired his fine wood works in galleries in SoHo and in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.  So, I was surprised to be able to sit down and converse with Wendell at my first faculty meeting at R.I.T.  Wendell has been associated with the School for American Craft for many years, and he maintained his relationship with SAC and our college for many decades.

Wendell Castle at The Memorial Art Gallery 

Wendell Castle's work has had strong effects on the world of fine wood working and beyond.  His art has been collected world-wide, and his honors and awards are the highlight to a career of amazing accomplishment.  While the recent show at The Memorial Art Gallery had a focus on the use of digital tools to help in the construction of his art, it should not overshadow the fact that Castle blended sculpture and furniture in such a way as to construct a totally new genre.

Wendell Castle and "Mr. Chips"
in studio

The artwork of this individual has had a far-reaching impact, his vision was unique, and in a way he represents a guiding light, like what Frank Lloyd Wright had meant to  architecture.  Wendell always had a friendly greeting for me and I was happy to see him working with students here at R.I.T.
For Nancy Jurs, and their son Bryon Jurs, and the rest of their family, I extend my condolences.  Wendell Castle certainly will be missed by many, and his work lives on.

Wendell Castle, remembered...