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Cybermural Project: Boyle Heights

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There is arguably no other neighborhood that encapsulates LA’s history, its tectonic demographic changes, its reinvention, its promise and potential as does Boyle Heights.

Juan Devis wants to document its continued change through “Departures,” a Web digital mural that takes advantage of the neighborhood's subtle beauty to take visitors on an online tour of the people and places in this community.

With the upcoming Gold Line extension and the changes occurring in many of the city’s neighborhoods, Devis said in a phone interview with LAist that now is the time to capture the sense of place of this community as it sits on the cusp of another transformation.

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“Boyle Heights has changed hands throughout its history,” said Devis, producer of new media at KCET. “It is again going through a process of change, right before it is either completely gentrified or right before the community takes control of it.”

The panoramic pictures take viewers on a virtual tour of a few main drags in Boyle Heights, complete with video profiles of a few chosen people who live and play there. Click on First St. to visually experience a stroll by the Benjamin Franklin Library Branch, or Los Antojitos, a popular Mexican restaurant, or the myriad street vendors.

The 36-year-old Colombian native, who found this East Los Angeles neighborhood to be the most culturally-familiar after moving to this city, was recently featured in a New York Times story, which touted this project as the new wave of Chicano muralists spawned in Los Angeles.

The plan is to create an interactive Web mural for many of the city’s neighborhoods, with Watts and Little Armenia already in the works, Devis said.

“I didn’t want this to be a heavy, historical thing,” he said. “I want people to discover and find different angles of information…to see what these neighborhoods are all about.”

Photo by Juan Devis