Modernist Church in South Central Becomes a Temporary Art Gallery


The only church that architect Rudolph Schindler ever designed still stands on Compton Avenue in South Los Angeles. The long-closed Bethlehem Baptist Church remains much the way the master modernist envisioned it in 1944, even though the space has sat unused for more than 40 years. Real estate agent Crosby Doe specializes in architectural properties and agent Ilana Gafni has the listing for the 2000 square foot space with high ceilings, a stage, and a choir loft. The property is listed at $1.49 million.

Art advisor Thomas Solomon invited 79-year-old New York artist Robert Barry to create a temporary installation inside the building. Vinyl letters, spelling “accept”, “reveal”, “confused”, and “looking” are nearly invisible affixed to the white walls of the church. The work requires the viewer to explore the space in order to find and read them all. It’s a great way to compel visitors to take in the entire room, especially when the words turn corners and take you backstage or behind closed doors.

Barry’s bio explains that his works are “non-classifiable, neither conceptual, minimal, narrative, or body art-related.” I think the guy working the desk had some tattoos, so those words do actually describe the experience pretty accurately.

The church has been off-limits for years and however you feel about Barry’s art, the exhibition offers a terrific opportunity to visit an important building by a master architect.

Robert Barry: Bethlehem Baptist Church Installation
Through December 13th, 2015
4901 Compton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011

Thursday through
Sunday, 11 a.m to 4 p.m.