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Just Above Midtown:
Changing Spaces

October 09, 2022 – February 18, 2023

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art presents Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces from October 9, 2022, through February 18, 2023, across the third floor Edward Steichen Galleries. Just Above Midtown (JAM) was an art gallery and Black space that welcomed artists and visitors of many generations and races in New York City from 1974 until 1986. A hub for Conceptual art, abstraction, performance, and video, JAM expanded the idea of Black art and encouraged both critiques of and thinking beyond the commercialization of art. Linda Goode Bryant started JAM in 1974, when she was a 25-year-old arts educator and mother of two, to, in her words, “present African-American artists on the same platform with other established artists.” A self-declared laboratory for experimentation, JAM encouraged artists and visitors to challenge hierarchies within the art world and definitions of what art should be.

MoMA’s exhibition follows a loose chronological structure that references the hundreds of solo and group exhibitions, performances, and installations at JAM. The display includes a wide range of art made by key figures like David Hammons, Janet Henry, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, and Randy Williams, among many others. The exhibition presents archival photos, videos, and other contextual historical material to give visitors a sense of the collaborative ethos that defined the art gallery and the alternative model of art it championed to respond to a society in need. In addition to the exhibition, the project includes performances, film screenings, public programs, and an exhibition catalogue, co-published with The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces is organized by Thomas (T.) Jean Lax, Curator, with Lilia Rocio Taboada, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance, in collaboration with Linda Goode Bryant and Marielle Ingram. With thanks to Amber Edmond, Brandon Eng, Curatorial Fellows, and Argyro Nicolau, former 12-month Intern, Media and Performance.

The exhibition is made possible by the Ralph Lauren Corporation.

Leadership funding is provided by the Leontine S. and Cornell G. Ebers Endowment Fund, the Jon Stryker Endowment, and The Black Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Generous support is provided by the Alice L. Walton Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

Major funding for the publication is provided by the Perry and Nancy Lee Bass Publication Endowment Fund and by Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida.

MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Images

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Randy Williams. L’art abstrait. 1977. Wood, canvas, book, book cover, plexiglass, wire, metal bolts, and lottery ticket, 24 × 41 × 5 in. (61 × 104.1 × 12.7 cm). Courtesy the artist. Photo: Mark Liflander

David Hammons. Untitled. 1976. Grease and pigment on paper. 29 × 23 in. (74 × 58.4 cm). © David Hammons. Hudgins Family Collection, New York

David Hammons (left) and Suzette Wright (center) at the Body Print-In held in conjunction with Hammons’s exhibition Greasy Bags and Barbeque Bones, Philip Yenawine’s home, 1975. Photograph by Jeff Morgan. Courtesy David Hammons. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

Suzanne Jackson. Talk. 1976. Colored pencil on paper 41 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches (104.8 x 74.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and Ortuzar Projects, New York. Photo: Timothy Doyon

Palmer Hayden (American, 1890–1973). The Subway. c. 1941. Oil on canvas. 30 × 26 in. (76.2 × 66 cm). The Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection

Linda Goode Bryant and Janet Olivia Henry (obscured) at Just Above Midtown, Fifty-Seventh Street, December 1974. Photograph by Camille Billops. Courtesy the Hatch-Billops Collection, New York

Barbara Mitchell (center right) and Tyrone Mitchell (far right) at the opening of the exhibition Synthesis, November 18, 1974. Photograph by Camille Billops. Courtesy the Hatch-Billops Collection, New York

Still from video footage in the JAM Records featuring Randy Williams, Marquita Pool-Eckert, and David Hammons with Jorge Luis Rodriguez’s Circulo con cuatro esquinas (Circle with Four Corners) (1976), in Rodriguez’s exhibition Circulos, Just Above Midtown, Fifty-Seventh Street, 1976. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

George Mingo (American, 1950¬–1996). Zebra Couple. c. 1983. Oil on canvas. 48 × 64 in. (121.9 × 162.6 cm). Courtesy the artist’s estate and Hudgins Family Collection, New York

Flier for Just Above Midtown Gallery. c. 1985. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

Flier for Just Above Midtown Gallery. c. 1985. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

Flier for Just Above Midtown Gallery. c. 1985. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

Janet Olivia Henry (American, born 1947). The Studio Visit. 1983. Mixed media installation with “the artist” (doll of Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek), “the curator” (doll of Spanky from Our Gang with a 1960s Barbie wig), and miniatures of an easel, two wooden melon crates, stretching canvas instructions, sousaphone, bottle of Evian water, goblet, corkscrew, wine bottle, lamp, loaf of bread, wooden kitchen cabinet, rice cooker, folding chair, kitchen sink, vegetables, fruit, red shelves, paper towels, cans, bottles, kente cloth rug, nightstand, radio, frog, hair dryer, dictionary, juju box with brass light bulb, hand mirror, perfume bottle, red bra, flash light, bracelets, espadrille, wire hangers, futon, clothes, book, trunk, pillow, a stack of newspapers, hen, refrigerator, straw fruit basket, wood-burning stove, kettle, frying pan, coffee table, kerosene lamp, ashtray, tumbler, Barcelona® couch, sneak – ers, and oil pastel and colored pencil drawings on brown rice paper. 14 × 19 716⁄ × 21 716⁄ in. (35.6 × 49.4 × 54.5 cm). Courtesy the artist

Senga Nengudi performing Air Propo at JAM, 1981. Courtesy Senga Nengudi.

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey

Installation view of Gallery 414 Just Above Midtown: To the Present, on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from October 9, 2022 – February 18, 2023. Photo: Emile Askey