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“Joe Castillo: SandStory” opens Arts Night Out series

You never know when a small mistake can change your life forever. That is the case of Joe Castillo, who presents “SandStory” as the season opener of the Fifth Third Arts Night Out series at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton on Thursday Oct. 24.

For Castillo, a 2012 finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” the move into sand art happened by chance nine years ago when he accidentally purchased a large bag of sand at the hardware store instead of mulch. Unlike most people, who would’ve simply exchanged the bag for the right material, the error got Castillo’s creative gears turning.

He began experimenting in his garage and devised a method where he draws in sand on a light table, creating art and manipulating images on the spot to a pre-recorded soundtrack, which is projected onto a large video screen.

“I’ve always been very interested in telling stories with my artwork,” Castillo said recently, speaking over the telephone from his home in Richmond, Ky. “I discovered I could morph one image into the next and could create a storyline. It wasn’t static anymore, it was fluid, and that’s really what captivated me in beginning to experiment with how to get it on the screen and how to do it with music.”

Even before appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” Castillo had already taken his powerful live art shows on the road for public performances and corporate dates for Ford Motor Company, Apple, Pfizer and other major clients.

“Some of my clips wound up getting on YouTube,” Castillo said. “The phone started ringing and then I started traveling and performing. I did that full-time a good four years before ‘America’s Got Talent’ came knocking. We were traveling and performing and having a fantastic time doing it. Everywhere we went the audiences were just captivated. They were mesmerized by it.”

This overwhelmingly positive response to “Joe Castillo: SandStory” finally convinced him to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

“I decided to give it a shot and I ended up a finalist,” he said. “According to NBC’s statistics, they have close to 500,000 people audition for the show so I feel very blessed and fortunate to get as far as I did.

“I got about 12 and a half minutes of television exposure,” Castillo added. “Where could I go to get that kind of exposure without paying millions of dollars to do it? By NBC’s figures, with reruns and everything, they claim to have an audience of 22 million people worldwide. That’s a whole lot of eyeballs.”

The Fifth Third Arts Night Out series continues at DAI with “Robert Wittman — Art Detective” on Nov. 21 and “Spontaneous Fantasia” on Dec. 5. Single tickets are $30 adults and $26 seniors. Season subscriptions are $80 adults and $78 seniors.

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