Modern life is an ever-accelerating barrage of people, buildings,vehicles, creatures, and things. How much can a curious mind take in? And what can it do with all the data? Gregory L. Blackstock, a retired Seattle pot washer, draws order out of all the chaos with a pencil, a black marker, and some crayons.
Blackstock is autistic and an artistic savant. He creates visual lists of everything from wasps to hats to emergency vehicles to noisemakers. In the spirit of the Outsider art of Henry Darger and Howard Finster, Blackstock makes art that is stirring in its profusion and detail and inspiring in its simple beauty. He has never received formal artistic training, yet his renderings clearly and beguilingly show subtle differences and similarities--enabling the viewer to see, for example, the distinctive features of a dolly varden, a Pacific Coast steelhead cutthroat, and fourteen other types of trout.
Each collection is lovingly captioned in Blackstock's unique hand with texts that reflect facts from his research as well as his passions and preferences. Blackstock's Collections contains over 100 extraordinary examples of his splendidly original taxonomy, offering a unique look inside the mind of a man making sense of life through art.
Monsters of the Deep
Major Forestry Pests The Spatulas The World War II U.S. Bombers The Buoys King Sized Jails Monsters of the Past Classical Clowns Great Italian Roosters Our State Lighthouses The Irish Joys
Holiday Books 2009, Design Observer:
"Gregory Blackstock washed pots for a living for twenty five years, played the accordion to supplement his income and hand drew hundreds of extraordinary visual lists, from hatchets to emergency trucks to wasps to Great Italian roosters. Blackstock is an artistic (and autistic) savant and his quirky and endearing drawings are a must see for anyone interested in visual communication."
— Adam Harrison Levy
"Blackstock offers us a visualization of knowledge. His collected drawings are a splendidly original and captivating taxonomy, and they provide a rare look inside the mind of an autistic man making art. Not least, they fuel an artist's pride that is life-affirming. "
"To match his sincere, graphic representatons, Blackstock titles each piece quite literally ('Colorful Egg Pattern Favorites to Go For' is one). Since retiring from pot washing, he's able to devote more time to his new calling. The art world should rejoice."
"When artists are good they are very good, and they fit no category other than their own. Blackstock, 58 and autistic, is one. Personally, I heartily dislike the notion that autism gives him a leg up or a taproot to sink in the art version of a collective unconscious. If he werent afflicted in this way, I think hed be an artist anyway, a diffrent kind of artist, one whoes focus is not so intensely methodical, but an artist, no doubt. Lets give Blackstock the credit for his accomplishment, not the neurons misfiring in his brain. His drawings are wonderful."
— Regina Hackett
"Princeton Architectural Press knocked one out of the park with this stunning collection of drawings by Seattle outsider artist Gregory Blackstock. . . . The drawings have an old-timey look to them, like vintage seed packet illustrations or hardware store diagrams, and they're gathered here with incredible care and attention to design and detail. This is one of the nicest books of the year."
"Blackstock has prodigious powers of memory and graphic skill. "
"Blackstock's visual taxonomies . . . span the generic to the unexpected. 'The Great World of Crows' contains 20 examples of that unremarkable genus, for example, while 'The Noisemakers' lumps the traditional party popper with the 'loud filthy-mouth offender, the overemotional dirtbag.' Arranged in neat horizontal rows with Blackstock's compact upright signature on the bottom right, these catalogs of the physical world provide a glimpse into the idiosyncratic mind of the 60-year-old savant."
"Blackstock's drawings are hypnotic and compelling and all his own. This tidy little book is a fitting tribute to an endearing artist."
Art World News:
"(Blackstock) creates visual lists in the form of drawings accompanied by text, based on meticulous research. The resulting freehand drawings offer a unique look inside the mind of an autistic man making sense of life through art."
"There is a refinement and sense of order in Gregory's drawings that is comforting, and allows us to pause for a moment to perhaps reflect of the expansive beauty of the things which surround our daily lives. There are eight items on the spatulas list, each with a different function. Gregory shows you 52 different ways to build a simple barn, represented in the sketches of a single hand, from the point of view of a master of observation. Seeing it all together is truly amazing."
Seattle Post - Intelligencer:
"A truely curious volume. These Drawings of an artistic savant portray collections of shoes, crows, pianos (regular & usual), Vacationers Irish Castles, Our States King-Sized Jails and dozens of other subjects."
— Michael Upchurch
Art MoCo blog:
"...a nifty little paperback filled wth exquisite black and white drawings that make up visual lists... The lists, ranging from different types of knots, buoys, oirental temples, noisemakers, hoes, crows, balls, Irish joys and many more, are comprised of incredibly detailed drawings, complete with captions and notes. This book is a treat."
San Francisco Chronicle:
"Beyond being impressed by the thoroughness and precision of Blackstock's drawings, we recognize something of ourselves in them, something that needs to see things put in order, by someone, if not by us."
Autistic artist brings a methodic intensity to the drawings on display in his first show, Seattle P-I:
"He draws from memory the images he has seen in dictionaries, encyclopedias and other source books, starting with outlines and shading in. Each of his drawings is a list, and the paper is often cut and taped together into a kind of a scroll that catches his successful depictions and lets others go."
— Regina Hackett
The Chronicle of Higher Education:
"Blackstock's graphic lists are strange, lovely, sometimes humorous, always specific. . . . Whatever his driving force, his clear voice manifests itself through these visual collections."
"If Gregory Blackstock's drawings were poems, they would have meter and rhyme. There's an orderliness to them that satisfies the pesky drill sergeant who rules our brainsand also a spark of chaos to thrill the soul. "
"Meticulously rendered, each animal or object's variation within the genus contributes to a visual rhythm that echoes Whitman's lists as well as Mondrian's geometric repetitions. While Blackstock's completist compulsion is instructive in individual cases--sixty-four types of bells!--the fecundity of human production is shown to be at least on par with nature's. . . . Like pictorial muster rolls, these images invite us to call out matter's many names in celebratory acknowledgment of what Heidegger called the 'thingliness' of things. "
"The subjects are rendered in a lucid black-and-white cartoon style, and the hand lettering invariably exudes a sense of glee. It's clear that the artist is entranced. . . Fittingly, one of the most appealing (subjects) is 'The Art Supplies,' a color drawing of everything you need, including the original 1958 Crayola crayon box, to make a picture with your own hands. But be forewarned: No one can do it like Blackstock."
The art of summer reading,
"Blackstocks drawings are hypnotic and compelling and all his own. This tidy little book is a fitting tribute to this endearing artist."
— Sheila Farr
"Lovingly drawn, obsessively chronicled, Blackstock's mind is at once disciplined and untethered... stunningly refreshing."