Tropico de Nopal is an art gallery-performance space at Beverly Boulevard and Union Avenue, west of Downtown. But its roots and its director, Reyes Rodriguez, are all Eastside. KPCC reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has read poetry there several times and, at his KCET blog, talks about the Eastside and art and his friend.
The way he rattles off his public school career will mean nothing to a lot of people: Eastman Elementary School, Stevenson Junior High School, Garfield High School. But to generations of Eastsiders it's a parochial pedigree that reveals not only where he lived, but who he grew up with, and some of the life-defining experiences of his Eastside generation.
I learned a lot from him and his wife Marialice when I moved here from San Diego a decade ago. They insert their work and spirit into Tropico de Nopal....I've had some mystical moments performing poetry at Tropico over the years. We connected on several levels: I'd lived in Tijuana for a while and Reyes lived there until he was six years old and he valued the interaction between literature and visual art.
Says Rodriguez: "The Eastside of Los Angeles is a vibrant hotbed of ideas and also just generations of creative people. There's something about the Eastside, there's a certain history, it feels like a community that's been lived in and has aged."
Photo: SoCal Focus