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Boyle Heights' growing arts, music scene

May 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Boyle Heights is located east of the Los Angeles River and is home to a diverse community and a growing arts and music scene. That's what brought David Kipen here.

Kipen was the director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, he's left the nation's capital and opened up a bookstore in Boyle Heights.

"Here's this amazing neighborhood that I hopped on the Gold Line and found, because I think it's exposing a lot of people to Boyle Heights who might not otherwise given it a second thought," said Kipen of Libros Schmibros. "It turns out to be this lovely, interesting street-level place, where you can run half a dozen errands in an hour and not set foot in a chain store."

Kipen loans books like a library, or you can buy them with special deals for locals.

"If they're from the neighborhood, they pay just a dollar. If they're from across town, they pay half price, so it's a bargain for everybody," said Kipen.

To find out what's going on, Boyle Heights has its own monthly magazine called "Brooklyn and Boyle."

There's also multiple art galleries and cafes that support local artists, such as the man known around town as the "bus stop prophet."

"There's a lot of interesting work being made art-wise, there's a lot of interesting work being made musically," said Abel Salas of Corazon del Pueblo.

Many who grew up in Boyle Heights are returning home and giving back. Near the Hollenbeck Skate Plaza, Armando Gonzalez opened up Soul Skating LA and credits skateboarding with saving his life.

"The true investment right now in Boyle Heights is towards the young people. That's why we opened up the shop to be able to support, again, the local artists, the musicians and the skateboarders," said Gonzalez.

Make sure and bring an appetite, because Boyle Heights provides plenty to feast on.

Just try to conquer the legendary Manuel's special: the biggest, baddest burrito at the famous El Tepeyac.