Vegetables à la Gregory Blackstock

blackstock turnips.jpg
http://www.garde-rail.com
This morning on my drive to work, I heard this great piece on KUOW about local outsider artist Gregory Blackstock. Blackstock, who worked menial jobs like dish washing for most of his life, is an autistic savant who spent his off-hours creating thousands of charming, off-beat, highly detailed drawings, or "collections."

Inspired by his love of lists, Blackstock's works are titled things like "The Aphids," "The Bells," or "The Noisemakers," and feature up to fifty different types of its subject matter in each one. The KUOW profile coincides nicely with Bumbershoot, for which Blackstock was commissioned to create the fine arts poster. It features his favorite Seattle landmarks and items.

But what has all this got to do with food?

I discovered Blackstock's artwork five years or so ago when I came across it Garde Rail Gallery in Pioneer Square, which specializes in self-taught, folk, and outsider art. (They have since closed up shop and moved to Austin, TX.) More than "The Saws," "The Hammers," or the "Old-Time Freight Train Equipment," I fell for his lovingly colored and detailed drawings of vegetables: turnips (pictured, right), kohlrabis, brassicas.

Afterwards, I picked up a book of his work, Blackstock's Collections, which I still visit and flip through pretty regularly. Blackstock's obsessive nature means that he catalogs all sorts of varieties of food items, accurately and matter-of-factly, creating artworks that I've even used for practical reference. (Think of Blackstock's food drawings as an outsider version of the drawings that appear on the back of every Cook's Illustrated, if you like.) I suspect most food lovers will also find Blackstock's vegetables equally irresistible.

 
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