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Old Glass Factory Molded into Queens Art Venue With Brooklyn Vibe

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | February 22, 2013 6:45am

QUEENS — An art venue that opened recently in a former glass factory in an industrial part of Maspeth is shattering the border between the Brooklyn and Queens arts scenes by organizing and hosting unique events and massive parties, such as Rubulad, an underground bash usually held in Brooklyn.

Knockdown Center, at 52-19 Flushing Ave., is located about a mile from the Jefferson Street station on the L line, just blocks over the Queens side of the border with Brooklyn.

The venue, which covers a full 3 acres, can hold up to 5,000 people.

One of its goals is to connect the two boroughs, said Kate Watson, from the center's programming team.

Watson said the venue has “many friends among art communities in Bushwick and Ridgewood,” and that “there is a lot of overlapping.”

“We kind of fit in this interesting in-between space, and we can actually do some interesting bridge work between the two boroughs," she added.

Since opening several months ago, the venue has hosted a number of events and projects, including Rehearsal, a work-in-progress show of performance art organized by Sophia Cleary.

There has also been an artist-designed mini golf course; a music event featuring women playing experimental music; a Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) night, where group of about 20 artists came with their own projectors to show videos; and readings from New York-based poets, including Eric Amling, Dan Ivec and Levi Rubeck, whose work has been published in 6x6 magazine by Ugly Duckling Presse.

The Rubulad party earlier this month, featuring a 50-woman drum band, a film festival and DJs, attracted about 1,000 people, Watson said.

In 2009 the venue’s owner, whose family had used the space to manufacture doors since the 1950s, decided to move production to another location and turn the space into an art venue.

But the space kept some industrial elements, including glass machinery.

The idea was to turn the venue into a “really dynamic space where a lot of different communities of people could come together,” Watson said. The multidisciplinary programming includes various arts, such as dance, music and literature.

In March, the venue will host performances by Cupola Bobber, two performers who make visual art, and a site-specific show of sound art in April.

This summer, Watson said, there are also plans for numerous music events.

At the moment, the venue is open for events only, but Watson said the center expects to have regular hours in the future. There are also plans for a bar to be included in the space.

“We really want to be a destination where you can come and han gout for the whole day,” Watson said. “Where you can get a great drink, see events, go to a great art show… that kind of immersive experience where you can have all these different, great things happening at the same time.”