By Maria McMath
Each weekend, from Oct. 4 to Dec. 15, the Peralta Junction Project will harness the strong local presence of the industrial arts and artists to create rich social and economic opportunities for an often-challenged neighborhood.
“We hope to create an economically sustainable, communal creative space for people who live and work in our neighborhood,” said Leslie Pritchett of Commonplace Productions, one of the project’s organizers. “We invite anyone and everyone to help shape and share in this evolving social project.”
If this pilot project is demonstrated to be viable, the project team hopes to move forward with a longer-term, five-year program at the site that includes arts-based programming, community space and micro-retail shops and restaurants housed in artist-designed and converted shipping containers.
With the help of scores of participating artists and volunteers, the project team has begun to clean up and rejuvenate the space, which until recently was full of weeds and all but invisible.
“West Oakland's rich and varied creative community has a tremendous amount to offer, but is often invisible, with many people working behind anonymous warehouse doors,” Pritchett said. “One of the goals of the The Peralta Junction Project is to create a gathering place, using the arts as a primary draw, in order to give the local creative community an opportunity to shine - to help bring social and economic vitality to a neighborhood that we love, but that is often overlooked.”
Talented local mural artists have transformed the long fence facing Mandela Parkway into a vibrant, interactive perimeter. Soon tents will rise, art projects will be installed, carnival lights will be illuminated and the space will come alive with art installations, creative workshops, performances, micro-retail shops featuring local artisans, Oakland-based food trucks, pumpkins and pumpkin carving, live painting demonstrations, face painting, clowns, carnies, vendors and more.
A strong list of key collaborators includes The Crucible, American Steel Studios, Stageworks Productions and The Burning Man Project. All-around hometown personality Tina Ramos noted “Oakland has been experiencing a tremendous amount of growth in the arts and food in the last five years. Much of this was done on a small scale or in underground [or] alternative events. Seeing a regular outlet for artisans of all varieties to showcase what is created out of hard work and passion in a West Oakland venue will continue to build on this growth.”
Grand Opening Weekend
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6-7