Jim Costello, born in Rochester, grew up in the Finger Lakes region of Geneva, New York, where his three siblings and their families still reside. The painter, Arthur Dove, was a native of Geneva, and his interpretation of landscape has had a strong influence on Costello’s later work. Costello studied art at the Ecole St. Luc in Brussels, Belgium, during his senior year of high school. He enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a BA degree in 1964, followed by an MFA in 1967. He taught art at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and at Yankton College in Yankton, SD.
In 1970 he moved with his wife Barbara, their son Matt, and two Notre Dame class-mates, also artists, and their families to the mountains of northwest Virginia. There, in an empty cornfield by a mountain stream, the families set up housekeeping. Soon the group was living in three 1920’s era Fruit Growers Express refrigerator boxcars. Costello subsequently began building pole barns for farmers in the area while always drawing, painting and journaling the local landscapes, back roads, barns, buildings, and culture of his Appalachian home. Central to this undiscovered artist’s work is the importance of a mystical, rather than analytical, understanding of the world, work that encapsulates the spirit and energy that animates all living things. It spans 40 years and includes acrylic paintings, pen and ink drawings, and illustrated journals.
Now living with his wife in a 200-year-old log home, Jim Costello has never actively sought recognition as an artist. He prefers instead to play his banjo by the wood stove, trout fish in the Shenandoah River, read copiously, and live life as it comes. Still young at heart at 72, he can spin a yarn like a true Irishman, and is beloved by his friends.
A 1980’s gallery exhibition of Costello’s work in Washington, D.C., was received with rave reviews by the Washington Post and the signature painting from that show was purchased by the National Geographic Society. In 2015, a retrospective exhibit at the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia, was an exceptional success and reintroduced Costello to the public after many years of self-imposed anonymity. His paintings have been collected throughout the decades by friends and admirers.