The aforementioned o word doesn't appear until the halfway point of James Castle: A Retrospective, which also rejects the idea of Castle as folk artist. (Interesting, since Darger's commercial apex has occurred with New York folk museum realms.) Even then, it's placed within conversational quote marks by the painter Terry Winters. Encouragingly, Winters later flips the notion and mentions "insider" art, a notion that probably is intended in commercial terms, but could just as easily signify those artists whose creative life has an inbuilt insularity. For now, the atmospheric and perhaps emotional darkness of so many of Castle's soot-and-spit works is in the light, and it would be an honest mistake to view those works as cute. His books, assemblages, and drawings are as complicated as the people they render, and possess as many open doors as the houses or homes they depict.
JAMES CASTLE: A RETROSPECTIVE
Through Sun/25, $5-$8 (members and children under 12 free)
Berkeley Art Museum
2626 Bancroft, Berk.