Good evening Hi, my name is Aaron Bryant and I’m actually Curator for Photography and Visual Culture at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture Tonight I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Dr. Walter Evans. If you don’t know who he is, which i’m sure you already do, you’ll get a much broader appreciation of this gentleman after tonight. Dr. Walter Evans, a retired surgeon, and his wife Linda they are considered two the nation’s leading collectors of African-American art. Their collection spans more than a hundred and fifty years and is considered one of the finest art collections in the country. Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1943 Dr. Evans developed his interest in art during his medical training, when he noticed the absence of African-Americans in our museums. In 1979 he made his first major purchase, a portfolio of serigraphs by Jacob Lawrence entitled “The Legend of John Brown.” This purchase would be the beginning of a collection that has expanded to more than 500 paintings, sculptures, photographs by both nineteenth and twentieth century modernist, as well as contemporary artists. Walter and Linda Evans have toured a selection of roughly 80 pieces from their collection in an exhibition that traveled from 1991 to 2007. The exhibit has toured to more than 45 museums and universities galleries nationwide. The couple have also loaned selections from their collection to US embassies and major museums around the world Additionally they have established the Walter O. Evans Foundation for art and literature to provide a vehicle for the collection to remain intact and for others to be inspired and educated buy it for generations. Now Dr. Evans attended Howard University. He also went to Harry Medical College and he graduated from the University of Michigan, School of Medicine in Ann Arbor. Until his retirement in 2001 he was Chief of General Surgery at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit. After his retirement though he continued surgery traveling to remote areas in South America to do pro bono work Presently Dr. Evans is on the board of visitors for the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Savannah Economic Development Authority, and the Savannah Chamber of Commerce. He is also a past board member of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, and the Margaret Walker Alexander research center. After he and his wife both retired they relocated to Savannah, Georgia where they remain committed to sharing African-American art and America’s cultural legacy through their collection Now before I ask the good doctor to come up to the stage, I have to do just a little bit of housekeeping here. If you can please turn off all your electronic devices – tablets, cell phones. I should also mention that this program is in support of the exhibition Harlem Heroes photographs by Carl Van Vechten which is currently on view through March 19th If you haven’t seen the exhibition it’s really an incredible exhibition and well-presented. I’ve seen it twice already, and I’ll be back tomorrow to see it again, actually. Then I also want to let you know that we have microphones, you’ll see on either side of the auditorium. We’re going to have a question-and-answer period afterwards, after Dr. Evan’s talk. We ask that you go to the microphones to ask your questions, because tonight everything’s being webcasted. We want to make sure that the folks who are watching over the Internet can hear your question. We have a treat tonight, Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance, a talk by Dr. Walter O. Evans – applause – Thank you very much, Aaron. I want to thank Nona Martin for making this possible and for inviting me to this prestigious art institution, again. I was here several years ago and enjoyed it very much and have been here many times in the past I actually love this institution and all of the artwork within. Also I want to point out my wife here, Linda. I have

classmates here from high school and Hartford. Anyway, thank you Who was Carl Van Vechten? Who is this white man who could feel at home in Harlem socializing with blacks and at the same time entertain African-Americans in his home for mixed-race parties at a time when this was virtually unheard of? To answer these questions one must go back at least a generation prior to his birth, but let’s briefly explore Van Vechten’s migration to America. Teunis Van Vechten, a farmer, came to America from the Netherlands and 1638. He landed in New Amsterdam, now Manhattan, on August fourth He thrived as a brewery owner and a grandson Michael was able to buy 900 acres in New Jersey in 1685. Nearly a century later, Derek Van Vechten entertained the quartermaster for George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, during the Revolutionary War. After the war a portion of the Van Vechten family moved west. By the time Carl Van Vechten was born in 1880 the family name was fast becoming one of the most important names in the state of Iowa. Carl’s parents, Charles and Ada, moved to Cedar Rapids, I’m sorry, they moved to Cedar Rapids where Charles’ brother Giles owned the bank. The railroad farming, meat-packing firms, large grain processing including Quaker Oats had made Cedar Rapids into a boomtown. Charles, himself, settled into a very lucrative insurance business Carl was three years, Carl was the third child of Charles and Ada. His sister Emma was 13, and Ralph, his brother Ralph was nearly 18 at the time of his birth His siblings were more like aunt and uncle rather than a brother and a sister and doted on him. His uncle Giles would be a multi-millionaire by today’s standards His parents, while not nearly as wealthy as Giles, were able to maintain an upper-middle-class standard and were able to hire 3-4 domestic servants. Among these domestic servants were two African-Americans – a laundry maid and a gardener. Charles and Ada both had a long history of fairness in civil rights and their children were instructed to address them as Mrs. Cersy and Mr Oliphant, rather than by their first names. Their fellow Cedar Rapids citizens were aghast at this practice. For his 11th birthday Charles gave Carl a copy of “Cudjo’s Cave” a novel by abolitionist JT Trowbridge. This very book can be found in the Beinecke’s collection at Yale University in the James Weldon Johnson collected found it by Charles that we will discuss in a little. Charles went much further. In 1909 he and a young black preacher named Lawrence Clifton Jones founded a school for black children in Mississippi – the Piney Woods School, still in existence to this day. My wife and I visited this school a few years ago just south of Jackson. Beginning in grade school and continuing throughout high school Van Vechten had no interest in cowboys and Indians games played by his classmates, instead he read Shakespeare and Ibsen and listened to Mozart and Beethoven Sometime during his high school years he saw a performance by Black Patty Troubadours, a traveling company consisting of dozens of black singers and dancers and acrobats, one of whom was the then-unknown Bert Williams I’ll tell you this might be the only photo of Bert Williams that appears dignified. It took me a long time to find this photo of Bert Williams Van Vechten enrolled in the University of Chicago in 1899. He had visited the city at least once before during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and had fallen in love with the city’s cosmopolitan environment. During his college years he not only attended performances of the Chicago Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but made rounds to an area called the Levee, Chicago’s notoriously illicit nightlife district with street after street of gambling dens, cabaret clubs, gin palaces, saloons, and more. Prostitutes

walked the streets in the Levee at will Van Vechten claims to have been a pianist at the famous Everleigh club where the rich and famous frequented. People such as John Barrymore, Prince Henry of Prussia, Theodore Dreiser, Jack Johnson were regulars. With a classmate in tow, Van Vechten got to know several venues in the black belt on the south side of Chicago. Usually they were the only white faces in the clubs such as the Dreamland Cafe or the Lincoln Gardens. This was an altogether different experience from the sanitized African-American entertainment he had experience in Cedar Rapids. He even went so far as to invite one of the singers Clarita Day to perform at one of his fraternity’s social functions. It was at his fraternity house that he befriended it’s housekeeper, Mrs. Desdemona Sublett. She was a devout Christian who invited him to a variety of activities in the black belt including church services, weddings, etc where he was the only white in attendance. After these experiences he crowned himself an honorary negro Following graduation from college in 1903 Van Vechten went to work as a journalist at Chicago American, a newspaper owned by William Randolph Hearst. The paper was run on the principles of yellow journalism and its object was to make news not report it. One of his assignments was to supply photos to accompany his stories he wrote and eventually he graduated to write the society gossip column. When he insulted the wife of one of the senior editors in one of his columns he was dismissed He then made his way to New York City in 1906. This is Van Vechten at age 25 when he made his move to New York City. Soon after the move, he was hired by the New York Times as a staff writer and became its music critic in 1907. This job was less as a music critic and more as a celebrity watcher. Spending well beyond his means he began to beautify himself with expensive clothing and jewelry It was around this time that Van Vechten became more open with his sexual proclivities. He had known since childhood that he was attracted to other men, but it was not until his move to New York City that he was most open with these activities Nonetheless he entered into a short term marriage with a friend from his childhood in Cedar Rapids, Anna Snyder Before his divorce was final, five years later, he had his sights on a new lady – Fania Marinoff. Marinoff was a Jewish theater actress who had migrated to America from Odessa in Ukraine as a young child with her parents Marinoff knew of Van Vechten’s sexual proclivities, but she needed the security that he would provide. Though rocky at times due to Van Vechten’s hard drinking and partying they would remain married until his death in 1964. In 1916 Van Vechten signed a book deal with a new publishing company Alfred Knopf. His book, “Music and Bad Manners” was only the third book that the young firm had published. His subsequent relationship with Alfred and his brilliant wife Blanche would prove to be pivotal in his future promotion of African-American writers In the summer of nineteen twenty-four one of the editors at Knopf passed Van Vechten a book, a novel entitled “Fire in the Flint.” The book was an impassioned protest against segregation and oppression in the South written by African-American Walter White. White was the assistant secretary for the NAACP and would go on to lead the organization from 1931 until 1955. The two men met at Van Vechten’s apartment and immediately hit it off. Van Vechten had never before knew an African-American that he could relate to for more than physical performance Walter White was a black man who used his brain rather than his body for creative expression, yet managed to maintain an authentic black identity in his writing Van Vechten wanted to meet more African-Americans like Walter White and

he could not have chosen a better guy than White. Although their relationship from the very first was warm, each valued of the other in terms of what the other could do for himself White recognized what Van Vechten’s influence could bring to his career and to the African-American cause Van Vechten saw White as a fast-track into the culture circles of black society White ushered Van Vechten into the center of Harlem. Over the ensuing months he would be introduced to A’Lelia Walker, daughter of America’s first female black self-made millionaire. He would attend A’Lelia’s legendary parties at her property on Edgecombe and a 136th Street. He would meet Countee Cullen, James Baldwin, I’m sorry not James Baldwin, not at that time He would meet Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois and more. He devoured their letters, the souls of black folks, and the novels of Charles Chestnut. In his own words, he became “violently interested in negros to the point of addiction.” The work that affected him the most was James Weldon Johnson’s “Autobiography of an Ex Colored Man.” Introduced by Walter White, he and Johnson became fast and firm friends Van Vechten was astonished by Johnson’s vast range of talents: a gifted musician, accomplished writer, skilled diplomat, and shrewd politician, and one of the few black men admitted to the Florida Bar Van Vechten held Johnson to be one of the greatest living Americans. Schooling himself with black cultural history by day, at night he developed an obsession with Harlem’s nightlife. Under White’s guidance Van Vechten became acquainted with black people of all backgrounds from social workers to artists, to writers, to hard drinkers like himself. Although he had visited black nightclubs in the Tenderloin district of Manhattan from the time he first arrived in New York City, he had not strayed uptown much prior to his meeting White. Very quickly Harlem became his all-consuming passion. There were some clubs in Harlem such as the Cotton Club and the Plantation Club that only allow blacks in as performers or workers not as patrons Van Vechten stayed clear of these. Smalls Paradise was the place to be seen among Harlem’s black elite, but he was more excited by places where the lower classes hung out. The Nest was one of these places. Described by Claude McKay as, “bright, crowded, with drinking men jammed around the bars treating one another and telling the incidents of the day. Long shoreman in overalls with hooks, pullman porters holding their bags, waiters, elevator boys look a rich laughter, banana right laughter.” The Nest was an after-hours den in the basement of a brownstone on 134th street. The Nest was where he first met Nora Holt, a gifted cabaret singer who would come to The Nest to unwind after long sets elsewhere. Holt was known for her extramarital affairs and had a pension for stripping and dancing naked parties. Van Vechten felt that Holt held in one body the ideal elements of black identity, thoughtful and urbane as well as being physically and sexually expressive The male writers that Van Vechten socialized with in Harlem included Countee Cullen, Harry Waldron, Alain Locke, Wallace Thurman, and Richard Bruce Nugent all pivotal figures of the Renaissance and all gay It should be noted that Langston Hughes was not on the scene in these early days of Van Vechten’s Harlem explorations At his home just south of Central Park at 150 West 55th street, blacks were routinely invited as guests at his lavish parties. This practice was unheard of in white New York City at that time Inside apartment 7d, white society mingled with struggling black artists who laughed, drank, and danced the Charleston together George Gershwin was usually on the piano Tales of what went on at Van Vechten’s party became part of the lore of Manhattan in the twenties and thirties,

but the one that was most repeated the most involved Bessie Smith. This is the account that Smith gave and she was fond of telling. She performed in New York in December 1928. Smith was known for her heavy heavy duty drinking. Upon her arrival at one of the Van Vechten’s parties he came up to her and offered her a lovely dry martini Smith was already drunk and told Van Vechten that she had never had a martini wet or dry and wanted nothing but straight up whiskey. After downing a first, a second, then a third shot of whiskey she launched into a set of blue standards nothing short of mesmerizing When it came time for her to leave Marinoff went up to Smith and put her arms around her and attempted to give her a goodbye kiss Smith threw Marinoff to the floor and said “Get the _____ off, away from me! I aint never heard of such ____.” The Smith party might have generated the most gossip, but the most important party was one that Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda attended on January 17, 1925 Robeson sang spirituals in front of some of the most influential people in New York City with Gershwin on the piano Sometime during the spring of that year the inaugural awards dinner for the monthly opportunity magazine, The Journal for the Urban League, was held. Receiving an award was virtually unknown twenty-three-year-old Langston Hughes Hughes recited his poem, “The Weary Blues,” during the ceremony. Van Vechten attended the performance and was captivated At some point during the evening Van Vechten ask Hughes if he could show Alfred Knopf some of his poems for possible publication Hughes was then working as a busboy in D.C. at the Wardman Hotel. He brought several of his peoms to Van Vechten’s house the next day before heading back to D.C. on the train. In short order Hughes had a publishing contract with Knopf, his first book publication “The Weary Blues” thus began a lifelong association and friendship between these two men Following the publication of Hughes’ book Van Vechten’s work as a dealmaker and publicist was one of the furnaces that fueled the Harlem Renaissance. He was able to raise the profile of many African-American artists and writers at home and abroad. In spite of this, some Harlemites were highly suspicious of his motives. For one thing his novels, some very very successful, always figured blacks as mute servants too decadent whites. Countee Cullen was one of the many doubters. Cullen was eager to socialize with Van Vechten, but never fully trusted him He thought Van Vechten was only interested in sex, song, elevating his own profile among blacks and the downtown whites. When Van Vechten wrote an article about blacks in Vanity Fair, Cullen stated that Van Vechten was and this is a quote, “Coning money out of niggers.” If some blacks were irritated or angered by his self-appointed role as Harlem’s one-man publicity machine many whites found it absurd and teased him for it Van Vechten paid little attention to this teasing. He saw himself doing vital work creating a bridge between the racially divided worlds of New York City This is a caricature that Cobarrubias made of Van Vechten showing him as a black man. It says, “A prediction from Cobarrubias.” White patronage of blacks was not unique to Van Vechten nor unique to the day. The white own Survey Graphic produced what is still regarded as Harlem’s Renaissance Bible. They soon thereafter published the Negro Anthology The Spingarn Medal given annually by the NAACP to the person who had done the most to promote the cause of African-Americans that year was a gift of the white Spingarn family Charlotte Mason was a fabulously wealthy woman with a mansion

on Fifth Avenue who created around her a circle of black writers depending on her logist She had to approve all their writing projects and they had to produce a stream of material She required that they call her guard mother Chief among her stable of writers were Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and Zora Neale Hurston. One day in August 1925 the day after Van Vechten’s publication of his latest book “Firecrackers,” he noted in his diary that he had come up with the name of his next book It would be called “Nigger Heaven.” He did not dream up this term, it came from use in African-American communities referring sarcastically to the balconies and movie theaters that blacks were required to sit in certain communities It also was used to refer to the sublime atmosphere and experiences in certain night spots. He did run the proposed title by a few of his trusted friends. Grace Nail Johnson wife of James Weldon Johnson warned him to expect a venomous response. Walter White thought it a great title. Countee Cullen was incensed. Van Vechten’s father castigated him and urge him to please not use that title His father died before publication Well, the book was published in August 1926 and Grace Nail Johnson was correct in her prediction. Within Harlem not too many were pleased at how blacks were presented. W.E.B. Du Bois, never much of a fan of Van Vechten, excoriated the books Most African American newspapers refused to advertise the book in its pages Van Vechten’s black housekeeper, Mayda Fry, came in one morning with a pile of furious reviews from the Black Press. The reaction from the white community was mixed. D. H. Lawrence from across the Atlantic thought it second-rate. On the other hand Sinclair Lewis, H.L. Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald praised it. Many whites said that it taught them quite a bit about blacks in America. Prior to the publication W.C. Handy and Van Vechten had become rather close Not long after the publication, a birthday party was being thrown for Handy at Smalls Paradise, to which Van Vechten had been invited Most of Van Vechten’s white friends advised him not to go, however he went anyway, accompanied by Zora Neale Hurston. To his relief the evening went without incident Towards the end of 1926 the Van Vechtens took a long vacation to get away from all the fray in New York City A significant event happen to Van Vechten in June of 1928 Not long after his return to New York City, his brother Ralph, who was living in Chicago, died Ralph’s widow, Fanny, passed a short time later. After Van Vechten attended Fanny’s funeral, he learned that he inherited 1/6th of his brothers multimillion-dollar estate. He and Marinoff were then instantly wealthy. One of the first things he did was take a prolonged sojourn to Europe. Not long after this European sojourn, his friend McGill Cobarrubias returned from Europe with a new Leica camera. After explaining how relatively easy it was to operate Van Vechten found his new calling. In the early days of 1932 Van Vechten converted a room in his house into a dark room. His new-found hobby quickly became a full-time obsession. Before long he was taking portraits of any and all who would sit for him, both black and white, including himself These are some of the photographs that can be found in this exhibition here in the museum These photographs were not for sale They were for his own use, but he did give most of his subjects at least one of the prints In February 1936 one year before her

tragic death, Bessie Smith returned to the scene of her infamous outburst It was the first time either of them was sober in the others presence. This time on her best behavior Van Vechten was proud to have captured her in a quite reflective mood. When Billie Holiday came for shoot in 1949 it took Van Vechten two hours to break through her contrary and sullen exterior It was not until he showed her photos of Bessie Smith, her great heron, that she she let her guard down. W.E.B. Du Bois was a hard sell, but he agreed to put down past hostilities and submit to a sit for a Van Vechten photo smiling warmly as he did so. In June nineteen thirty-eight James Weldon Johnson died in an auto train accident Mrs. Johnson was in the automobile at the time, but survived the incident. This was a tremendous loss to Van Vechten Not only was James Weldon Johnson a great friend, but Van Vechten thought of him as an intellectual equal and a collaborator. Van Vechten formed the committee to erect the bronze sculpture by Richmond Barthé to stand at a 110th Street and 7th Avenue at the northern border of Central Park in Harlem. When plans for this died Van Vechten decided to donate his voluminous collection of material on African-Americans to Yale University to be called, “The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Art and Letters founded by Carl Van Vechten.” In 1949 Van Vechten convinced Georgia O’Keeffe to donate her collection of Modern Art to Fisk University to be housed in the Carl Van Vechten Gallery Van Vechten died in his sleep on December 21st, 1964 with his wife Fania at his side. By that time he had ascended to new heights of respectability for his long work of promoting African-American art, literature, and culture. Now these next four slides here, these next four images are people that I knew very well and was very much friends with that Van Vechten took. I didn’t know Van Vechten personally, myself, but I knew all of these people well. Margaret Walker – Margaret Walker Alexander as I knew her, Romare Bearden, didn’t know James Baldwin as well, but I knew him. I actually collected the largest collection of his letters which are now in the Beinecke collection in the James Weldon Johnson collection at Yale. That’s the largest collection, to date, that we know of James Baldwin This is Jacob Lawrence who was very close friend. An elderly, not long before his death, of Carl Van Vechten. That’s going to conclude my talk except for one thing I did want to show you. This was, I guess you might call it almost serendipitous because just two days ago my friend at the, my acquaintance, at the Beinecke Collection sent this book to me that was just published. Hot off the press. I don’t even know if you can get it yet. I wish I had received it a couple weeks ago but it’s from the collection, the James Weldon Johnson collection. It’s called, “Gather out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance Album,” Melissa Barton. Almost all of the images and material came out of the collection that Carl Van Vechten started. I wanted, I brought something else to share with you If you care to come up afterwards to the stage and view it, but these are all photographs in our collection. We have about three times as many, mostly of the same person – James Weldon Johnson. But James Weldon Johnson and his wife Grace had a home in Maine. In fact that’s where the accident took place. It’s about halfway between Brunswick and Bar Harbor near the coast. This is the house that they were living in. This photo was taken by

Carl Van Vechten. You can always tell an original Carl Van Vechten. He signed every one of his photos in one of three different ways. He had an imprint, he sometimes signed them on the back as he did on this photo of the house up in Maine. This is Grace and another photo of Grace. The other third way he signed, he signed the back usually in red pen. Langston Hughes always signed his, almost everything in green ink. Carl Van Vechten signed in red ink almost everything. These are numerous photos all signed by Carl Van Vechten or the imprint and it usually put the date down there on every single one of them. You’re free to look at these, afterwards These are all different images. He must have taken a voluminous amount of photos of James Weldon Johnson, because I know we have maybe 30. The other ones that I didn’t bring are a large format and I couldn’t safely bring them. But these are all, this particular one was made into, this was made into a postcard. I know you can’t, but you can come up later I’m sorry, you can come up later and view them. Was this a person that said she couldn’t see? We do live together. But anyway you can come up later and see that. I wanted to share that with you. Thank you very much for listening – applause – I’ll try to answer your questions Dealers. At one time African American material, I had this pipeline. We not only collect art, we collect, we have probably the largest Frederick Douglass collection in private hands anyway. Many books are being written this year, because you know next year will be his bicentenary of his birth. Born in 1818 and so on and so forth You know, books, manuscripts they’re over a hundred thousand books, first edition mostly, sign in our home. I got most of them from dealers and over a period of time, many years. The Baldwin letter came at about three different tranches. One from his biographer, who is still alive, he just wanted to sell them. I got them from the dealer. They’re online now Yale has digitized them They are available online, there is over a hundred of them Well thank you Oh, is there another question? I have a question Yes, Hi Sir. Mr. White was clearly, he was an African-American who clearly past as white. Didn’t pass, he could have passed. Yes, he could have I’m just wondering how did he parade Mr. Van Vechten in the community? People knew him. They knew he was black. I mean he could have passed as white as you stated, but he never did. The only time he passed his white was to go down south to investigate lynchings. He never passed just to be passing In fact, I got to tell you this The book that all the controversy was about – “Nigger Heaven” – some people say it was based on Nella Larsen. The person of Nella Larsen, in a way. Vaguely, you know, her mother was Danish and her father may have been part Danish. Her parents were from the Danish West Indies She never passed herself, although she lived in Copenhagen for a while. She was born in the U.S. in Chicago, I believe She wrote two books about passing One was “Passing” and I think one was called, “There is Confusion.” I think that was her book. But she never passed herself either Hi, thank you so much for speaking to us and the presentation was lovely. My grandparents are from Jackson, Mississippi and we used to visit Piney Wood. My grandfather was on the board so that spoke real volumes to me Still in existence to this day It is, it’s still going. From 1909. It’s a very

special school My question is you probably also have collections on this, but I’m wondering if you have any collections on the kind of black Renaissance life that was happening in Paris in the 1920s? Then a personal question if you had the choice to live between the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s well, 1910 to 1930s, or the Paris nightlife in the 1920s for black people, which one would you choose? Thank you. Oh, can I have them both? I mean that’s like asking me what I prefer Saravana or Ella Fitzgerald? I’m, you know, I have the capacity for choosing both. No, I can’t make that choice, but to be honest with you I’ve read about the black Renaissance as you might have it in Paris. I know the great things that they’re doing. I want you to look online for an exhibition that just took place in Paris, came down two weeks ago, called, “The Color Line.” It was at the Quai Branly Museum. There is nothing, there is nothing like that ever presented in the United States. Over 600 major artworks, and objects, etc. in that exhibition. It could not have been presented in the U.S. It was just amazing. Look it up online, “The Color Line.” It was about the African-American experience from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement Thank you. In your Frederick Douglass collection, what’s your favorite, maybe most meaningful piece to you? Oh my god. That would that be so hard Let’s put it like this There was a letter that. No, you know, when Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery from Baltimore to New York in, lets see, it was a 1838. He was 20 years old Then he went from, you know, he got married His, you know, his then-girlfriend or fiancé brought him. She came up a couple days later. He got married. They changed their name, he was Frederick Bailey They went on up to Massachusetts and he attended this church where he became a minister. He went to Nantucket Island to speak and that’s where he met Garrison. Of course, Garrison took him on a speaking tour and he became famous It is sort of like Paul and Jesus. There was Jesus who may not have been known had it not been for the conversion of Paul Saul who became Paul. He made him famous on the speaking tour, but I’m going to get to this one thing at a time, in a minute. Anyway they fell out, because they had different views on how blacks should be freed from slavery Garrison wanted blacks freed by moral persuasion and Douglas said by any means necessary. He never resorted to violence, but he did say for any means necessary They became almost enemies and they almost never spoke again in life Douglas then moved from Massachusetts to Rochester. He founded the newspaper The North Star and so on and so forth. Garrison died in 1876, nineteen years before Douglas died, who died in 1895. Even though they had become enemies, Garrison’s widow came to Douglas and asked him to give the eulogy I have that handwritten eulogy. It has been printed up, has been a booklet form, but I have, I think it’s about a 10 page handwritten eulogy. I really can’t say that’s the most favorite, but that’s the thing that stands out. It is very meaningful Yeah. Thank you for such an interesting talk. I actually was wondering, some of these portraits that he did are so famous, but you said that he didn’t sell them? No. But he gave a copy to the artist Did they then have copies made? How were

they all disseminated? Then my other question was, because I wrote down some of these names of people that you mentioned. I figure i’ll look them up but I thought I might ask if you want to expound on who they were? Like Horace Pippin, and Countee Cullen? I’ve never heard of them Thank you. Okay well I won’t embarrass you know. These are two very very well and renowned people. Pippin probably you can rank him as one of the most renowned American artist, untrained american artist. He was in World War One and he was injured. His right arm was injured. When he came back after the war to help make ends meet he started painting. He never had any training or anything, but his paintings were so inspirational Many of them were about his war experiences but others were about you know just everyday life, the black community. He became, you know who Barnes was of course? You know Alfred Barnes Barnes collected his work He lived, I think he was from Chester, Pennsylvania, which is where he lived He started getting large amounts of money for those days, I mean hundreds of dollars for his paintings. His wife didn’t believe that he could get this kind of money for his paintings. I mean these these were you know. She, it is said that she was extremely upset. I’ve heard that she almost went berserk, because she thought he might have been getting this money illegally. She knew he couldn’t be getting, but his work today, when I started collecting art, let’s put it like this. There was only one artist, one African-American artists whose work was going for six figures. One, and it was Horace Pippin. No other artist at that time in the seventies was getting over a hundred thousand dollars per one painting. Now, he’s among a dozen artists whose work goes in to the millions. Now, Countee Cullen Countee Cullen was an adopted son, a poet, who lived in New York City Now you’re talking about the Harlem Renaissance. All these people who you know the major players of the Harlem Renaissance, I can’t think of any other ones who were from New York City other than Countee Cullen I can’t think of any other They may have been, but I really don’t know who they are He was the adopted son of a minister of a very important Church in New York City. Very very brilliant and unlike, his poems are almost the opposite of Langston Hughes’ work I mean he wrote in iambic pentameter and what have you, whereas Langston Hughes was a poet of the people more or less. He was very strict in his, very well-educated, extremely well-educated. He was just one of he was just one of the major players I can tell you a lot more, but the story could go on, and on, and on. Many books of poetry that he wrote. If you want me to give you some of the names, I can do it afterwards. I’d be happy to. Dr. Evans I wanted to, it’s Nona back here. I wanted to see if our curator here at the American Art Museum can answer the question about how the collection came to the museum Oh that’s right, somebody did, that was somebody’s question as to how they were, how the photos were disseminated as well, right? Well, let me say one thing before she says that. James Weldon Johnson was given a lot of his They were very very close and you must remember he died in 1938. He didn’t really start taking photographs in a large way until 1930, so he must have taken a voluminous amount of photographs. But basically most people just had the one photo and some like James Weldon Johnson may have had a lot more. Please I’d like to know how these arrived at the Museum here Hi, I’m John Jacob. I’m the photography curator and SAAM. After Van Vechten had

been photographing for a while he also began placing his archival material of music, about cats, about art, and all sorts of different subjects in different settings, in different University settings, and the Beinecke is the most important of them. He did this all across the country. There’s, in New York City, there’s the Historical Society Howard University has a collection He specifically put his photographic collections in many of these sites. As he got older and he continued make portraits, he continued to send those portraits to each of his different archives. They really spread out. Also I think that they’re all maybe not all but most are in the public domain. Our group came, the first big chunk of our photography collection in 1983 was a transfer from the National Endowment for the Arts. An organization called the Eakins Foundation Press put this together as a portfolio Originally they had applied for funding to do two Van Vechten portfolios; one of men, one of one of African-American men, and one of women. In the end they only did one portfolio. What we have in the exhibition is the prototype that they developed for one of the portfolios In fact, that one was never produced so it’s unique, and the other is what they submitted as their final report to the NEA. It was unfinished at the time that they submitted it so it’s actually not the finished portfolio, either Both of those portfolios upstairs are unique objects Well thank you. I didn’t know most of this information. Thank you Yes, thank you for doing this event I’m a Howard alum, go HU. I just had a question about Jacob Lawrence. He’s one of my favorite artist. I just want to know a little more about your relationship with him and your interest in his work in your collection? My first purchase of, I think you heard, my first purchase of African-American fine art was a 22-piece portfolio, “The John Brown Series.” Right after acquiring that, he was living in Seattle on Northeast 37th Street. He later moved downtown, but I found, he was listed in the phone book I got his address and wrote him a letter I asked “could I come out to visit him?” which I did. That was a couple years after this first purchase. By that time I had had a few more of his works, major works I took my twin daughters, I think they were nine years old at the time, I took them out to visit Jake and we spent about three or four days together hanging out with his wife, Gwen I just kept acquiring a lot of his work, among other artist as well now By the time it was over, when he died, I was actually with him when he died in Seattle in 2000. He had, just few years prior to that, for five years prior to that, he’d asked me to be on the board of the catalog raisonné. The catalog raisonné is a compilation of the artists’ entire body of work, and essays, etc, etc I was the treasure. In fact, we couldn’t find a publisher He’s the only African-American artists to have a catalog raisonné. We couldn’t find a publisher because they didn’t think catalog raisonné by an African-American could sell. This is the Dean, Dean of the 20th century African-American artists We privately funded it which in retrospect was a good thing, because we were able to do quality assurance, we won the Getty Book Award when it came out. The book, the raisonné came out the year that he died. We had completed it by then in 2000. It won, that year it won the Getty’s Book Award for the best art book in the nation. How we were able to do that is because we raised all the money. In fact, my wife, Linda and I raised most of the money in Detroit A couple million dollars. By the time it was over, I think we have the

largest collection of his work including what your Phillips has here. Phillips probably, Phillips and the MOMA are probably second to our collection in terms of the original works by Jacob Lawrence Thank you so much Dr. Evans. Thanks for you talk and your presentation this evening Thank you – applause –

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