Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces

Photographs of A Book Party for *Contextures*, which took place on the same day as the opening of Houston Conwill’s exhibition *Notes of a Griot*. March 18, 1978

Dawoud Bey. Photographs of A Book Party for Contextures, which took place on the same day as the opening of Houston Conwill’s exhibition Notes of a Griot. March 18, 1978 370

Pictured Houston Conwill (left) and Linda Goode Bryant (center). Gelatin silver print: 20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 61 cm). Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York

Linda Goode Bryant: African American artists and other artists of color were really not being interwoven into Western art history.

Curator, Thomas (T.) Jean Lax: Dawoud Bey took this photograph at the launch party for the book, Contextures. In that book, Linda Goode Bryant and her friend and classmate, the art historian Marcy S. Philips, explored ideas about abstraction that were fundamental to the artists at JAM.

Artist, Senga Nengudi: I can’t express how deeply important that was because a lot of our work, reviewers, critics, their excuse was, “Well, we don’t really understand the work, so therefore why should we review it?” She laid the stuff out, so that it was very clear what we were doing.

It was difficult to get something published, especially if it was related to Black art.

Linda Goode Bryant: At JAM, always, it’s like you don’t have any money, how are we gonna do this? I said we’re gonna write a good press release. We’re gonna send our presale press release to every art library and college in the United States. We’re gonna send it to every museum. People pre-ordered the book! It worked. [Laughs]

So the joy in the room for any of the folks in those photographs was just, “Oh my God, once again, we’ve pulled it off with absolutely nothing.”

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