Tom Gilmore with Councilmember Jose Huizar at Downtown Art Walk, July 2008. Photo: VFaL
The LAT's John Lopez documents Boyle Heights hopes for an arts district:
An arts district has long been part of the city's community plan for Boyle Heights -- and something of a no-brainer to Councilman Jose Huizar, who grew up admiring the famous Estrada Courts Murals in the district he now represents.
"There's so much history for the arts in Boyle Heights, from the mariachi music to the Chicano rock 'n' roll scene to the murals," Huizar said in an interview.
But the area's artistic bona fides have more often been overshadowed by a reputation for gangs and economic stagnation. Changing that was one motivation for "Real Women Have Curves" playwright Josefina Lopez when she started her theater/gallery space Casa0101 on 1st Street in 2000.
"Growing up, I couldn't walk to the theater and to the gallery, I wanted to create that for the youth and for the people in the community. . . . I want people to know there's more than just gang violence," she said.
Others followed: Salas moved Brooklyn & Boyle out of his El Sereno house and next- door to Casa0101, and Lilia Ramirez took up residence in her gallery/studio space Liliflor Studios nearby. Suddenly, an area whose sole arts mecca had been the nationally renowned but perennially fighting-for-its-life Self Help Graphics, was experiencing a renaissance.
Back in July, 2008, Councilmember Huizar (above) toured Downtown Art Walk after the ribbon cutting for Phyllis Stein Art, and was surprised at the foot traffic it generated. It may also be a warning, as the A.R.T.E.S. (Artists for Revitalizing the East Side) knows it may add to the region's identity and redvelopment dollars, it could attract "outsiders."
In the article, playwright Josefina Lopez, who runs theater/gallery space Casa0101, says, "We want to make sure that people who come to Boyle Heights come to contribute and not just take. The community deserves an arts district, deserves these beautiful, wonderful things, but they don't deserve to get kicked out for it."
MORE: El Random Hero introduced A.R.T.E.S back in April. [LA Eastside]