September 26, 2018

Q&A with Real Time & Space

Local artists discuss how Around the Block helps them connect to their community

by OMCA Staff

Just around the block from the Oakland Museum of California sits Real Time & Space, a studio complex founded by artist Emma Spertus along with artist and photographer Johnna Arnold. Together, they connect with the local community through art with their project, Channel Arts, bridging art and everyday life. 

This Saturday, September 29, as part of the Oakland Museum of California’s one-day pop-up experience Around the Block: A Day of Neighborhood Stories, Emma and Johnna will bring their workshops to the Lake Merritt BART plaza, inviting the public to join them and learn how art can help people understand the world around them. OMCA sat down with the two to discuss their project, Channeling. 

Q: What drew you to participating in Around the Block?

Emma: I've been dreaming of putting up a public exhibition on Lake Merritt Plaza since I started Real Time & Space in 2011, so it's sort of a dream come true, if just a temporary one-day dream. But I'm really excited that Channel Arts’s project can culminate in an exhibition in Lake Merritt Plaza to, you know, connect with the community and then have a participatory exhibition on the activation day.
Johnna:  I think the idea of activating the Lake Merritt BART Plaza felt like a big, exciting opportunity. I'm thinking of that type of energy for one day, of just sort of no money changes hands, everyone’s on even terms, everything is participatory and a space that honestly is a bit bedraggled at the moment can really come to be a fun place for one day.

Q: How is engaging people through art is different than engaging people through conversation?

Emma:  I think our world is so fast-paced and we're all so distracted I think art is a nice antidote to today's pace and sort of stresses that it forces you to slow down and be present. You have to be present and think about it and make something and engage part of your mind that maybe in our daily grind doesn't get engaged as much. 
Johnna: I think a little bit like sharing a communal meal it’s had that feeling, at these events, of sort of casualness but like an egalitarian, we're all on the same page, we're all in the same place and we all are participating or sharing a sort of project.

For more on this project and a detailed Around the Block schedule, visit

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