Carlton Davis

Carlton: “I became interested in art after a visit to MOMA where I saw a burned mattress on display. This led a friend and I to create a joke art movement we called Org Art (Organic Art). We made three pieces: hotdogs mounted ends up of different lengths called Org Op #1, scallions and a beer bottle glued to a board called ‘Ode to Braque,’ and a fish nailed with three spikes to a board called ‘The Last Lunch.’ We submitted our work to the college art festival where it was rejected as ‘garbage.’ We said to the organizers ‘You get it.’ This led to a cover story in the Yale Daily News.

“The joke turned out to be on me. I came to LA when artists were moving into the old warehouses in Downtown. I was one of the early pioneers of this migration to the abandoned and homeless overrun buildings north of Skid Row. I exhibited my work in underground galleries like Exile and the Llasa Club. I created the Art Dock, the drive-by gallery. The gallery lasted for six years from 1980 to 1986 in the loading dock of my loft. I wrote a book about it titled ‘The Art Dockuments.’ In 2016 I had a one-man show spanning the 30-plus years I spent living and working in the Art District. For this show I recreated a revised piece called ‘The Very Last Lunch.’ Since the exhibition would be up for more that six weeks, I had to abandon the idea of using a real fish and substituted a Grouper fish model, the fish that the apostles caught in the Mediterranean Sea off Palestine. My work has always been involved in experimenting with old forms and themes in new ways.”