April 19, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

I know of only a few churches, including Austin’s own First Unitarian Universalist Church that have embraced the use of their space as an art gallery. A feature on the Religion News Service website shares the big plunge into the art world taken by one of Los Angeles’ oldest and established churches. Three years ago, the First Congregational Church began planning its own curated show to feature works by great masters, established contemporary artists and even unknown locals. Each artist was asked to explore their idea of what is sacred and how the sacred impacts their work and their communities.

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The church’s senior pastor, Rev. Scott Colglazier, teamed up with local art promoters to plan the exhibit to be displayed in church’s historic Shatto Chapel. The gothic revival space dates from the 1930’s and is filled with art from that and earlier eras. The idea of using the space as a gallery is a natural connection for the church. Rev. Colglazier is quoted: “Anytime you are in the presence of something beautiful, you are in the presence of the creative God,”

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When the group invited artists to contribute, every one they asked said, “yes.” The result is a widely divers collection with some obvious faith images from many different faiths. Several standouts pieces came from the unknown artists. A student artist, Alfredo Alvarado, painted Taquito, a huge image of a happy dog intently eyeing the viewer. Alvarado says he wanted to express the feelings he has as he interacts with his dog, realizing that the feeling is universal, and all about the importance of relationships.

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As successful as this show has been, there has been one limiting factor. The gallery is only open on Sunday mornings. Anyone interested in seeing the exhibit had better get going. It closes on April 24.

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Art & Spirit at the Shatto Chapel, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, 540 S. Commonwealth Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Austin/ Liturgical Arts