Sandwiched between two examples of the development boom on Purves Street in Long Island City, is a former trolley repair factory. Inside, the one-time industrial space is now a place for art.   

The place is Sculpture Center. Founded as an art school in 1928, it transformed over the years into a contemporary art space, moving to the unique Queens setting twenty years ago. If you think the upstairs is cool with its sky high ceilings and Gantry Crane, downstairs was once an electrical substation. There's an underground tunnel where visitors can weave their way around corners amid thick concrete walls with holes for conduits and remnants of ceramic insulators. On display now is Sculpture Center's annual open call for artists called “In Practice,” featuring a wide variety of works.

"It's really well suited for installations, for building out things that might not look right or might look very different in a white cube space, it's definitely very far from that," said Kyle Dancewacz, the Director of Exhibitions and Programs at the Sculpture Center.

Sculpture Center presents free talks, lectures, and other public programs throughout the year, while bringing new artists and their work there and helping those artists navigate this not-so-gallery space.

"We have a great support staff here, we help them with everything from finding fabricators, finding carpenters, installing with our really skilled preparers, and also working with our space, which is a really idiosyncratic dungeon basement."

Outside of this underground lair, the neighborhood is sprouting up. Danewicz says new neighbors hopefully means a new audience for their artists.  

"Lots of new people walking by trying to figure out what's going on in this one remaining industrial building on the street," said Dancewicz.

Sculpture Center is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 m. You can take the subway here, too. Just go to the Court Square station, or Queensboro or Queens Plaza stations.

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