From Kirkus Reviews
A wide-ranging account of the artistic community in downtown Los Angeles during the 1980s.
In this thoroughly engrossing book, Davis provides an in-depth catalog of the works he exhibited between 1981 and 1986 in the Art Dock, a loading dock attached to his studio. As he states in his manifesto, this savvy, provocative decision resonates by “epitomizing the nature of contemporary art in the on-loading, off-loading, and up-loading of commodity.”
A valuable, permanent record of transitory and improvised events, embedded in a particular historical and artistic moment, which otherwise may have been lost.
Those whose downtown Los Angeles touchstone is Frank Gehry’s aluminum-clad, tornado-like Disney Concert Hall may have trouble conjuring what the area was like thirty years before that building starred in every new automobile ad on television. The Art Dockuments – Tales of the Art Dock: The Drive-by Gallery, by Carlton Davis, is a fascinating tribute to a very different Downtown scene and the scrappy artists who gentrified this rundown section of the city during the first half of the 1980s.
Divided into four acts—titled “The Manifesto,” “The Community Gallery,” “The Art Olympics,” and “The Business of Art”—this survey covers every exhibition held from 1981 through 1986 in the eccentric gallery located in the loading dock of a former pickle factory. The book’s focus is as much on the lives and beliefs of the creators as it is on their art works. The colorful illustrations of each show provide a visual diary and, together with a photograph of the featured art framed in the loading dock’s square opening, effectively tie together the book’s thirty-five historical narratives.
While The Art Dockuments is an entertaining choice for any reader craving a passionate account of art practiced as life—and faith—this handsomely packaged book will be most useful for aficionados of contemporary art, especially those interested in alternative ventures.