Wendell Castle: A Portrait

Wendell Castle: A Portrait

Mon, 11/20/2023 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm

Filmed over the course of a year by WXXI-TV’s production team, Wendell Castle: A Portrait captures the life of the master furniture artist, designer, sculptor, and educator.

Through Castle’s own words and interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, viewers will learn about his early years as an artist, his creative process, and the vision for his work. Wendell Castle: A Portrait airs Monday, November 20 at 5 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

The hour-long documentary also provides a unique opportunity to see first-hand Castle at work, as WXXI’s production crew follows him through the creation of his “Dizzy” chair – from his original drawings to the finished work of art. It was one of the last chairs Castle created before passing away on January 20, 2018 at the age of 85.

Castle was born in Kansas and received a BFA from the University of Kansas in Industrial Design and an MFA in sculpture, graduating in 1961. He then moved to Rochester in 1962 to teach at the School of American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was on staff as an “Artist in Residence” at the time of his death. An artist for more than 60 years, he is often credited as the father of American Studio Furniture and Art Furniture Movements. More than 100 of his works are installed in museums worldwide, including the Memorial Art Gallery.

The film visits Castle in his Scottsville home and studio, and looks at his masterpieces in wood, including his stack lamination method, his Technicolor gel-coated fiberglass pieces, and the Steinway 500,000th piano he was commissioned to create. Castle’s wife Nancy Jurs, well known as a potter who trained at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen, shares how they met, how he landed his teaching job at RIT, and details about his work and technique. Castle’s daughter Alison and step son Bryon Jurs also give insight into Castle’s medium and process.

The designer, sculptor, and educator continually pushed the boundaries of inventiveness, imagination and sustained innovation. “He defined an entire world of creativity,” explains Jonathan P. Binstock, PhD, Director of the Memorial Art Gallery, in the film. Others featured in the film include:

  • Josh Owen, Designer, Professor and Chair of Industrial Design, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rick Hirsch, Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Peter Kenney, Craftsman, Wendell Castle Studio
  • Marvin Pallischeck, Former Studio Director, Wendell Castle Studio
  • Marc Benda, Co-Owner, Friedman Benda
  • Loic Le Gaillard, Co-Founder, Carpenters Workshop Gallery
  • Grant Holcomb, Director Emeritus, Memorial Art Gallery
  • Evan Snyderman, Co-Founder, Creative Director, R & Company
  • Daniel Herberger, Studio Director, Wendell Castle Studio
  • Carole Hochman, Director, Friedman Benda
  • Bridget Sheehan, Craftsman and 3D Modeler, Wendell Castle Studio

Funding for Wendell Castle:  A Portrait is generously provided by Nocon and Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Incorporated. And, by the Sands Family Foundation. Additional support provided by Waldron Rise Foundation, Lilliputian Foundation, Louise Epstein, Tom and Ebets Judson, Martin Messinger, Mimi and Sam Tilton, Alan Cameros, Reenie and Stan Feingold, Jane Ellen Parker and Fran Cosentino, and Essie Germanow.