For artist Stephen Zeigler, transformation comes through beauty. He gathered street artists from all over LA to pay tribute to Indian Alley — a place of healing amidst the suffering on Skid Row.
Stephen Zeigler: This is an interesting stretch of street, because we’re just the inside the boundaries of Skid Row.
Narrator: For decades now, Skid Row has been home to folks at the farthest edge of society. The homeless, the addicted, the forgotten. It’s a depository for people we don’t want to see. It’s easy to look away or to want to clean the streets and send people packing. But what if there’s another option?
Man approaching camera on moped: I don’t want that!
Narrator: For artist and curator, Stephen Zeigler, the transformation begins by seeking beauty.
Indian Alley. Skid Row.
Stephen: Whenever I come out of here, unless I look out the window first, I really never know what’s gonna be on the other side of that door. Sometimes it’s somebody shooting drugs or smoking crack. Sometimes it’s someone just hanging out. Sometimes it’s a bunch of empty bottles. There was a nun that owned the place named Sister Silvia who ran it as a mission for alcoholic vets. Coming back from Europe, they found themselves on Skid Row. There was a Catholic Mission before that. So there were a lot of things that happened here.
Narrator: Indian Alley has long been a place for healing in the midst of Skid Row. It was where displaced Native Americans could find comfort. A place where addicts could find refuge.
Today, Zeigler and other artists are working to bring beauty to the space and to continue its legacy as a refuge for the downtrodden.
Stephen: As I started learning more and more about the history of the alley, I started approaching friends of mine, different street artists who I thought were doing spiritually positive work to start doing large-scale pieces here in order to recognize the efforts that so many people put into this place.
Narrator: Zeigler has invited some of the world’s top street artists to help honor Indian Alley’s legacy. Shepard Fairey, Teach Peace, Free Humanity, Random Act. Not to rack up glory and not to profit, but to bring beauty to a neighborhood and not let the world look away.
Stephen: For a long time, this has always been a place of healing. Creating community and connection with other people is a big part of my existence.
Why do we do art? Because it changes everything. How else can you get that kind of connection?
Art changes things. It changes place. It’s completely changed the energy here. There’s nothing really like this that exists.
Seek beauty [Church bells]