Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces

*Roberta Flack*

Mallica "Kapo" Reynolds. Roberta Flack. 1970 365

Oil on canvas, 24 1/2 × 20 1/2" (62.2 × 52.1 cm). American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Maurice C. and Patricia L. Thompson

JAM assistant director and children's book author/illustrator, Pat Cummings: Linda always had a lot going on. She’d like to have celebrities come in. She had a big opening planned for Kapo. He was an artist that Roberta Flack had discovered.

Curator, Thomas (T.) Jean Lax: Over the years, JAM’s various locations attracted a diverse crowd, including celebrities like Roberta Flack, a singer whose portrait is shown here.

Artist, Senga Nengudi: It was a combination of Black celebrities and artists.

JAM volunteer, art historian, and curator, Gylbert Coker: Linda said, well, let’s see if you could get your cousin to get Stevie Wonder to come to the gallery.

JAM volunteer, art historian, and curator, Horace Brockington: Robert De Niro is living down the street. Of course, Linda’s going to somehow engage him in some craziness of hers.

Artist, Janet Olivia Henry: Liza Minnelli came to the opening.

Horace Brockington: How do you get Harry Belafonte in there every other day? And he's arguing with her about politics.

Linda Goode Bryant: That amazing opening happened where people were out on the sidewalk, on 57th Street. You couldn’t get into the gallery. It was that crowded.

Gylbert Coker: Back then, if you had a party, everybody brought somebody. You know, plus one, plus two, plus somebody who heard about it. Everybody wanted to be there because Linda had the guts and the nerve to do this.

Artist, Randy Williams: What I remember is the curiosity factor. I think people showed up in a sense of disbelief that this actually had happened.

Horace Brockington: There was no forum for Black artists. Everybody would stop in there because they were so happy that there was a place for them to talk about their art, to have conversation.

JAM curator and artist, Tony Whitfield: Just Above Midtown was that rare place.

5 / 19