Small space, big faith

Los Angeles Times - - ARTS & BOOKS - —L iesl Brad­ner

Pho­tog­ra­pher Kevin McCol­lis­ter en­joys walk­ing around South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, but not along the cob­ble­stone walk­ways of Rodeo Drive, the white sandy beaches of the Pa­cific or the trendy Sunset Strip. He prefers ex­plor­ing paths less tra­versed in the un­pre­ten­tious, some­times seedy neigh­bor­hoods of L.A.

It was on one of his early morn­ing walk­a­bouts that he be­gan notic­ing a pro­lif­er­a­tion of one-room store­front churches in pock­ets near MacArthur Park. Since then McCol­lis­ter has been pho­tograph­ing the of­ten-over­looked mi­cro-churches that dot the ur­ban land­scape — the faith­ful grit to the city’s glam. He fin­ished his “60 Churches, 60 Days” se­ries on Twit­ter in April but has con­tin­ued to snap more than 100 of the hum­ble, tran­si­tory houses of wor­ship that have popped up in places like a for­mer shoe store.

“I re­cently counted a min­i­mum of eight churches along five blocks in these cool, col­lected lit­tle spa­ces in ar­eas that were just get­ting by,” said McCol­lis­ter, not­ing some have come and gone in six months.

These in­con­spic­u­ous churches of var­i­ous de­nom­i­na­tions don’t at­tract at­ten­tion in the bright-lights, big-city way. Their fa­cades are mod­est, of­ten lack­ing for­mal de­sign el­e­ments. With the ex­cep­tion of a few Caribbean-hued build­ings in pink, green or blue, most are painted white with black hand-painted let­ter­ing.

“They’re charm­ing and time­less and look like they be­long to another era,” said McCol­lis­ter, who seeks out parts of the city that chal­lenge its glossier im­ages. “This is my coun­ter­ar­gu­ment to stereo­typ­i­cal swimming pools, palm trees and sun­light. It has moved the nee­dle of my pre­con­ceived no­tion of what L.A. is about.”

McCol­lis­ter sees a lot of his home­town of Cleve­land here. “The blue-col­lar el­e­ment, just-get­ting-by way of life,” he said. “It’s dirty and funky.”

Pho­tog raphs by Kevin McCol­lis­ter

THESE ARE SOME of the store­front churches that Kevin McCol­lis­ter pho­tographed for a Twit­ter pro­ject around Los An­ge­les.

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