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‘Uncanny’ space brings menagerie of arts themes

Uncanny Valley in Long Island City provides space for a variety of creative arts, including performance and visual art forms. Photo by Lisa Ludwig
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Vaudeville shows, craft nights and electronic music concerts. Not a bad lineup for what was a vacant wood-flooring showroom just a couple months ago.

Uncanny Valley, a new art and performance space, officially opened to the public on Feb. 24, bringing all of these offerings to visitors of its 26-09 Jackon Ave., Long Island City location. It is one of the latest projects from nonprofit group Chashama, which repurposes unused or dormant spaces to create temporary art galleries, studios and theaters.

Uncanny Valley is a combination of all of these. Its opening party featured Balkan no-wave band the Drunkard’s Wife, a play from Williamsburg’s Dome Theater and an installation from artist-in-residence Lisa Ludwig. It holds monthly musical and theatrical evenings, with the next one on March 16 and a reading event the following week, as well as craft and community nights.

The space will also host a series of events after the PS1 Warm Up days on Saturdays throughout the summer.

In addition to being an event venue, Uncanny Valley serves as a workshop space for the National Theater of the United States of America theater company, as it works on a production of “The Golden Veil” that it describes as an “epic micro-spectacle” on its website.

“People can come see the workshop in action. The production value might not be high, but it will be an open and inviting atmosphere and we want people’s feedback,” said Normandy Raven Sherwood, co-director of Uncanny Valley. “The space is not just for the final presentation of work, but all the stages along the way.”

This work-in-progress approach infuses the whole space, and the broader efforts of Chashama, which secured temporary use of the building, as well as two other spaces nearby, including an old Bank of America location, from Manhattan-based Rockrose Development Corp.

“I think it’s a terrific idea,” said Patricia Dunphy, senior vice president of Rockrose Development Corp. “Of course we have certain restrictions in the agreement: It has to be family-friendly, and be sensitive to the community, and it is.”

It was this partnership that helped create the 15,000-square-foot The Palms party in Long Island City last summer, complete with live music, indoor lounge and three pools created from repurposed dumpsters.

Dunphy reached out to Chashama after seeing the group’s 16-foot window display of rotating art exhibitions on 53rd Street in Manhattan, previously the site of the Donnell Library Center until it closed in August 2008. The group currently has more than a dozen spaces throughout the city in addition to Uncanny Valley, including subsidized artist studios, exhibit and rehearsal spaces.

“We’re always looking for new space and proposals for artists,” said Kim Schnaubert, director of development and communications for chashama. “We’ve presented all sorts of independent artists’ work, and really program them according to the needs of the space.”

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