Born 1946, Seattle, Washington.
Gregory Blackstock was born in Seattle, Washington (USA) in 1946, long before the term Autism was widely known. Although his family was educated and of sufficient means, they were limited on how to handle his special needs. Their family physician gave him the misdiagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He’s since not only been diagnosed with Autism, but at the rarest end of that spectrum, an Autistic Savant. Blackstock was institutionalized for some years, working with specialists, making him more functional and as one doctor described to me “less robotic”.
Gregory has worked and lived independently, most of his adult life. As a teenager he successfully held employment as a newspaper carrier, and enjoyed bowling, playing music as well as drawing in his spare time. In 1966 the Seattle Times newspaper published a photo of a then 20 year old Blackstock, holding one of his earliest drawings entitled, “The Great Caped Crusaders” featuring Batman and Batgirl surrounded by sound effects such as Bam! Bonk! Wham! Zing!
Blackstock started drawing more steadily in his 40’s and quietly amassed an entire body of work that nearly no one was aware of until years later. Upon retiring as a pot washer after 25 years of service at a posh athletic club in Seattle, he had more time to make drawings that catalogued his innermost preoccupations and unique interests.
In 2003, Blackstock’s work came to light by way of Blackstock’s first cousin hearing about a niche gallery representing “Outsiders” and submitting examples of his work. Several months later, Blackstock’s inaugural solo art exhibition, featured a select group of drawings, chosen from over 175 in newly discovered body. The drawings were haphazardly stored in his tiny Seattle apartment, most of them rolled in bundles on the floor, under his bed. In ten years, it’s become evident that nearly all of the objects Gregory chooses to put on paper, have a profound personal affect for him; mostly stemming from childhood memory and what that world looked and even sounded like. For instance, his obsession with visiting, photographing and drawing buildings and candy, from the state of Vermont, is directly linked to memory of the Maple sugar candies his Grandmother Blackstock gave him as a boy. Vermont is the most recognized state in the U.S. for the maple sugar industry. Some subjects of his drawings are of a more current influence however, such as the dog breed drawings. Blackstock has affection and adoration for dogs but due to his Autism is unable to care for a pet. If he sees a person walking or petting a dog, he takes great interest and dogs frequently come up in conversation. He can recite the entire Disney movie “Lady and The Tramp” word for word.
- Courtesy Garde Rail Gallery
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2015, Drawings, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle
2013, Homemade Sheet Music Re-arrangements, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle
2012, Gregory Blackstock: Recent Works on Paper, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle
2011, Blackstock, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
2009, Gregory Blackstock, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
2008, Vernacular Photography of Gregory Blackstock, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
2007, Gregory Blackstock, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
2006, Gregory Blackstock's Collections, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
2005, Gregory Blackstock: Outsider Artist, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
Selected Group Exhibitions
2013, Véhicules, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
2013, Outsiderism, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia
2013, The Dream of Flying, Galerie Gugging, Vienna
2012, Paul Amar, Gregory Blackstock and Gérard Rigot, Galerie Susi Brunner, Zurich
2011, Hiding Places: Memory in the Arts, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan (Wisconsin)
2009, Collected Fragments, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland (United Kingdom)
2009, Outside the Lines, Kirkland Art Center, Kirkland (Washington)
2008, First Annual World Autism Awareness Day Exhibit, United Nations, Secretariat Building, New York
2008, Don't 'dis' the Ability, Manhattan Children's Center, New York
2007, Windows of Genius: Artwork of the Prodigious Savant, Windhover Center for the Arts, Children's Museum, Fond-du-lac (Wisconsin)
2005, Four x Northwest, Garde Rail Gallery, Seattle
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Microsoft Corporate Art Collection, Redmond
Capital Group Corporate Art Collection, Los Angeles
Ayers, Robert, "Gregory Blackstock's intricate world is a charming one, too | Art review," The Seattle Times, December 14, 2012.
Harmon, Katharine, "The Taxonomist: Gregory L. Blackstock," Folk Art Magazine, Winter 2007.
Beeferman, Leah, "Gregory Blackstock," BOMB Magazine, Fall 2006.
Blackstock's Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2006.
2011, Gregory Blackstock: L'Encyclopediste, documentary film by Philippe Lespinasse, Collection de l'Art Brut & Lokomotiv Films, Lausanne/Le Tourne.