First published: Fall 2014
In the glow of a floor lamp, a man is busy drawing. The shutters are closed and the curtains pulled. Outside is Seattle, the large seaport city on the north-west coast of the United States. Inside, the room is cluttered with framed photos of actors, newspaper cuttings, and trophies won in ten-pin bowling tournaments.
In one corner of the room three accordion cases are piled up next to a bicycle, a dozen photo albums and a bed. On the other side there is an organ, a record collection and a television set. The walls are completely covered with pictures and life-sized photocopies of sketch panels: Dentist’s Tools, English Second World War Bombers, Crows, Poisonous Plants, All the Tools, County Jails, Masks, Shoes and Hats.
The Major World Troublemaker Beetles, 2008, graphite, felt tip and oil pastel, 37.4 x 25.6 in., 95 x 65 cm
Every panel has its own title and subtitle. There is a caption under each drawing and a neatly handwritten signature in the bottom right-hand corner. The grand inventory of Gregory L. Blackstock’s artistic creation takes us back to 1966, when his first work was published by the newspaper of the Washington Athletics Club in which he was employed as a pot-washer for 25 years. It was a sketch of Batman surrounded by speech balloons full of noisy cries and onomatopoeic expletives: Boom! Thonk Thonk! Whoop! Schack! “The drawing has to generate clamour”, he said. His cousin, Dorothy Fritsch, confirms his obsession: “It could be airplanes, animals, high heels, shredders, saws, hammers and anything that moves really, that crawls, runs or even gives him the shivers like poisonous plants – that will catch his eye. Anything that produces noise or music attracts his attention, whether it be a piano or a circular saw. And when he gets going on a new series of sketches, that unerring eye of his will always be able to pick out the difference between one bus of supporters and another bus of supporters, one bell and another bell, or one drum and another drum.”