FROM THE DESK OF: Aiza
Back during my undergrad years, I took a summer internship in Washington DC with a Filipino Civil Rights organization. Working for a small nonprofit meant I obviously did not earn much money that summer. With little funds for even a Metro ride, I found myself exploring the (free) Smithsonian museums and wandering through the different DC neighborhoods. One of the best takeaways from my DC summer was that the best way to learn a city is simply to walk the city.
I recently joined a group of new friends on a spontaneous DTLA exploration day. Usually my DTLA weekend tours mainly involve brunch and bars. Thankfully the company I kept really appreciated all the DTLA street art …and a good drink at periodic stops too.
On our way to The Must on Winston Street we noticed a really interesting alley adorned with colorful murals, paintings and a random sailboat resting on a fire escape landing. A large gate locked the public out of the area. As we lingered outside the gate and admired the art from afar, a kind artist, Stephen Zeigler, approached us and started to unlock the gate. He offered us an opportunity to walk into the closed off area so that all of us could really take in the full art pieces and get great photographs. As a person that works and lives in the DTLA area, any new interesting facts and discoveries about the city always excites me.
A long time resident, local gallery owner and Indian Alley gatekeeper, Stephen shared some context of the neighborhood history by explaining how various ethnic homeless groups settled together in different sections of the Skid Row area; El Salvadorians stuck together, Native Americans stuck together and so forth. Indian Alley, also known as Apache Alley or Heroin Alley (to name a few) was a central congregating area for Native Americans living in Skid Row. In the years before this section of town started going through recent gentrification, one could commonly find prostitutes, syringes and even dead bodies in this alley. Under Stephen’s stewardship, Indian Alley is now a space for street art dedicated to the Native American struggle/history and Native American artists.
The artwork was incredibly beautiful and the message powerful. Native American urban street art? Found it!
Our DTLA random discovery tour reminds me that the world opens up when you zigzag the city streets, take a few moments to pause and look up and around. Walk the city, learn the city and never take the same path back.
For additional background on Indian Alley and the amazing artwork being created:
And definitely stop and visit Stephen’s gallery/shop when you are in the neighborhood having an afternoon drink at the Must Bar or Love Song or any one of the other great spots on Main Street.
118 Winston Street, 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013