Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces

Installation view of wallpaper showing past-due bills issued to Just Above Midtown in the exhibition *Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces* (September 10, 2022–February 18, 2023). Photograph by Emile Askey

Past-due bills issued to Just Above Midtown. c. 1970–80s 371

Wallpaper. Collection Linda Goode Bryant, New York

Linda Goode Bryant: I kept all the bills from JAM and moved them from one storage space to another storage space, and on and on and on for almost 50 years. Because they were part of the key truth to what JAM was.

You know, the way that JAM stayed open was with debt and more debt and more debt. I mean, and I didn’t have a large credit line. I was a single mom in my mid-twenties and I didn’t have any money. I’m not embarrassed about debt. If you don’t have opportunities that allow you to generate what are the conventional forms of resources, use what you have to create what you need.

You’re able to do things because people believe in what you wanna do. So, you know, not paying the rent wasn’t a strategy I planned out. [Laughs] But being able to talk about how important JAM was, and the realtor knew, he would just look at me and kind of smile and shake his head and let us stay. And same with the printers. They became invested through their belief in how important that space was. They wanted it to succeed.

Money doesn’t determine if I’m gonna try to do something. That doesn’t make sense to me. Money is just one type of resource. Not having money and operating with debt has been an asset in my life because it requires us to be far more creative than money allows anybody. And it is unfair, but I’m not gonna spend my time focusing on how unfair it is. I’m gonna spend my time figuring out how I do what I need to do to realize my vision and my mission.

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