Old Time Carnival Puts Art On Display In West Oakland
The old-time carnival has a new style in an industrial area of West Oakland. "Peralta Junction" is turning an empty lot at West Grand and Mandela into a magical world of art and performance.
Three kids stand around a table with levers that control a huge marble maze. It’s one of five old-timey attractions on the "Traveling Midway of Curiosities" by the artist collective One Hat One Hand.
"We’re aiming to show people a true carney experience and it’s meant to kind of resemble a time kind of lost," said Marcus Guillard, a member of the collective.
The artists try to bring that time to life through a combination of period costume and a touch of slapstick.
Peralta Junction popped up at the start of October, surprising residents of this West Oakland neighborhood. "It called our attention the way the area looks," said Ronny Sandoval. "We didn’t know exactly what it was, so we decided to explore and we just walked in and, well we find out that it’s a really nice cool place to hang out."
Sandoval lives four blocks away. He brought his three young sons to play games and carve pumpkins.
Leslie Pritchett is the woman responsible for the business side of the event. She says this neighborhood is the heart of the city’s industrial arts movement, but little of it stays in Oakland.
"We were excited to have the creative energy that is already here in West Oakland have an opportunity to come out from behind the warehouse doors and into the public sphere in a way that was fun and engaging and hopefully created an opportunity for social and economic vitality," Pritchett said.
The space has also become an incubator for local artists still figuring out how to make a small business work. Frankie Norstad operates "Soul Catchers Foto Booth", where she takes portraits of visitors in old time get-ups. She wants to try a similar idea, visiting farmers markets and festivals in a roving photo truck.
"This was a way to do a test run of pricing and work flow, you know, figure out what I’d need to make it work in a larger business sort of set-up," Norstad said.
Peralta Junction runs weekends through early December, with a few evening events on Thursdays and Fridays. A life-sized mousetrap will make its debut this month.