Just Above Midtown

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Just Above Midtown (JAM) was a non-profit artists space in New York City from 1974–1988. It was founded and opened in November 1974 by filmmaker Linda Goode Bryant. JAM was the first gallery space to regularly exhibit the work of African-American and other artists of color in a major art district.

History[edit]

Prior to JAM’s opening, works by artists of color were almost exclusively exhibited in community centers and cultural institutions in African-American, Native American, Latino and Asian communities.

JAM was known for its year-round interdisciplinary art program of exhibitions and performances. Its innovative programming of work by new and emerging artists also included The Business of Being an Artist – the first in series of workshops that began to surface throughout America in the late 1970s that provided artists with access and information on the art market, its interworkings and its impact on their work and livelihood.

JAM was also unique in its outreach to the public with activities which included a weekly series “Brunch with JAM” where the public for a small fee received lunch and a lecture from curators, gallery dealers, collectors and critics on their work and its impact on art and artists. The public was also able to observe artists while they developed site-specific exhibitions and performances for formal presentation.

JAM also published “Contextures” (1977) written by Linda Goode Bryant and Marcy Philips. “Contextures” was the first written account to document and place the work of African-American abstract artists within the continuum of American abstract art.

Artists exhibited, presented and/or supported by JAM include visual artists Shelley Farkas Davis, David Hammons, Fred Wilson, Senga Nengudi, Howardena Pindell, Houston Conwill, and Maren Hassinger. Performance and dance artists including Lorraine O'Grady, Fred Holland, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Yoshiko Chuma, and Elizabeth Streb. Musicians including Butch Morris, Oliver Lake, M-Base (Steve Coleman, Gerry Allen, Cassandra Wilson, Graham Haynes, et al.) and the first days of the Black Rock Coalition.