Sep 12, 2018
Black Art Dealers?
“Why Have There Been No Great Black Art Dealers?”
JUST ABOVE MIDTOWN GALLERY, 1974-1986
Just Above Midtown, Sydney Blum, Solo, Card, 1980.
The title, “Why Have There Been No Great Black Art Dealers,” of a recent article by Janelle Zara in the New York Times’ T Magazine was derived from the famous 1971 article by feminist art historian Linda Nochlin. Much like Nochlin, who was able to identify many successful women artists, T Magazine also succeeded in finding important black art dealers. Foremost among them was Linda Goode Bryant whose gallery Just Above Midtown (JAM) stood out for its diverse and socially engaged exhibitions from 1974 to 1986.
Just Above Midtown, Senga Nengudi, Vestige, Card, 1981
In a lively video interview that is a must-see
, Bryant talks about how different the art world was in the 1970s, pointedly recalling how the words N*gger, B*tch and C*nt were being freely used in works by artists like Vito Acconci, Chris Burden and most notoriously Donald Newman
. JAM postulated an alternative, more inclusive art world, nicely encapsulated in the title of its first exhibition, Synthesis: A combination of parts or elements into a complex whole.
Gallery 98 is lucky to have acquired a collection of JAM announcement cards and flyers
. Most date from the years that JAM was located in downtown Manhattan where it was part of an influential consortium of progressive, non-profit galleries like Clocktower and Franklin Furnace. JAM‘s more “complex whole” can be seen in the artists it presented: David Hammons, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Papo Colo, John Kelly, Lorraine O’Grady, Jerry Saltz, Martha Wilson and Tom Finkelpearl, to name only a few.
Just Above Midtown, Black Currant, Inaugural Issue, 1982. Featuring David Hammons and Camille Billops.