By Darold Treffert, MD
Greg Blackstock has never been happier. Since his 2001 retirement from the Washington Athletic Club, after nearly 25 years as a dishwasher, he has been able to focus his attention on his two loves: drawing and music. In 2003, his remarkable drawings came to the attention of a local gallery in Seattle, Washington.
A particularly unique and coveted product from Greg’s inventive mind is his Standard Time Chart of the World. Written on a stiff 10 inch square of cardboard in his precise lettering, are all of the countries and states of the 27 world time zones, or 264 countries and 50 states. Set in the center of this square is a rotating dial with the 24 hour clock marked off in 15 minute increments. Twist the dial to have the current time pointing at your location, and then look up the targeted location to see what time is ‘pointing’ to it. A complex problem rendered with striking simplicity. Much more fun (and easier) to use than many calculators.
In addition to being an exceptional artist, Greg enjoys learning music and languages. He plays accordion around town outside of sporting and theater events, trying to match the music to the venue, such as the Husky fight song before the football game, or the “Toreador Song” in front of the Opera House. By listening to records and talking with foreign co-workers, Greg has learned the rudiments of about 12 languages, including reading and writing the Cyrillic alphabet. Native speakers claim his accent is perfect and he also appears to grasp the various complex rules of grammar.
Self-supporting for many years, Greg is responsible for all of his own finances, transportation, entertainment, apartment maintenance and he is especially proud of the creative and distinctive meals he cooks for himself. His carefully written recipes for “Cream of Mustard Soup-quick method” or “Greg’s improved Cream of Spinach Soup” are composed with the same impeccable precision and artistic detail as his drawings.
Greg is thrilled to now be able to spend time on his art, and his imagination has taken amazing leaps. In 2017 he was awarded a 2017 Wynn Newhouse Foundation award. Local newspaper articles have been written about his artwork and his intricate drawings of many of his fascinating ‘collections’ are available in a book titled: Blackstock Collections: The Drawings of an Autistic Savant. In addition to the precise drawings of Mr. Blackstock, the book also describes his interesting and busy world, including some of his musical and language savant skills, along with massive memory. The book, available for viewing in the Treffert Library, is a colorful and informative look at the work of Gregory Blackstock. The Treffert Center also has Blackstock's drawings on display in the library and in the waiting area.
He is currently represented by Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, Washington.
Blackstock, G. L., Light-Piña, K., & Treffert, D. A. (2006). Blackstock's collections: The drawings of an artistic savant. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Hosseini, D. (2011). Artism: The art of autism.
Mullin, J., Grandin, T., Barth, D., & Petrovich, A. (2014). Drawing autism.
Treffert, D. A. (2010). Islands of genius: The bountiful mind of the autistic, acquired, and sudden savant. London: J. Kingsley.