Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Carl Van Vechten

Emily Bernard’s new book, Carl Van Vechten & the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black & White (Yale University Press, 2012), is about the controversial patron of black artists. Van Vechten visited Regina’s famous salon at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue where attendees included Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Some have suggested that Regina was the model for the librarian character Mary Love in his infamous novel, Nigger Heaven. He was banned from their salon after its publication in 1926. Regina’s roommates included Ethel Ray (later Nance) who worked for Charles Johnson at Opportunity magazine but almost nothing is known about the third roommate, Louella Tucker, although Van Vechten’s social diary entry provides one interesting tidbit:

Monday, 26 January 1925
…Then to the James Weldon Johnson’. Walrond brings three girls in, including the wonderful Louella Tucker who dances the Charleston more wonderfully than I’ve ever seen it danced.*

Several months later…

Thursday, 21 May 1925…At 10.30 went to Regina Anderson’s birthday party. Louella Tucker, Eric Walrond, Ethel Ray...*

*Source: Carl Van Vechten, The splendid drunken twenties: Selections from the daybooks, 1922-1930, ed. Bruce Kellner (Chicago, IL.: University of Illinois Press, 2003),72 and 85-86.

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