Usually the opening of an art gallery would not generate much excitement but Regen Projects is an exception. And, I have to say, it has been something of an exception for more than twenty years in its support of exceptional art and also in its survival through more than one recession. Though a TV show like Gallery Girls makes gallery life look like fun and games, this tough business is not for faint-hearted aesthetes.
Shaun Caley Regen has helped establish considerable international recognition, and sales, for Lari Pittman, Catherine Opie, Raymond Pettibon, Doug Aitken, James Welling, Andrea Zittel and others while also showing top artists from elsewhere such as Anish Kapoor, Matthew Barney or John Bock.
The big news is that she is relocating from chic West Hollywood to an edgier neighborhood at 6750 Santa Monica Boulevard, east of Highland, across from a gritty mini-mall with a pawn shop, a donut shop popular with transvestites, and the Redling Gallery. There is nothing gritty about the new Regan Projects, however. The former post-production facility, some 20,000 square feet, has been renovated by the talented architect Michael Maltzan, who has designed houses for art collector Michael Ovitz, artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell, and worked with a number of arts institutions. Avoiding fussy or extraneous detail, the spanking white building features glass front doors and horizontal windows running along a side street wall. Opening this Saturday, the vast main gallery comfortably houses work by many of the 31 artists featured in Regen's debut exhibition while discreet viewing rooms contain smaller works. (This is the first time that Opie's terrific photographs of Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry and clothing have been exhibited and many other artists are showing new work, as well.)
Dan Graham sculpture Slightly Curvaceous, commissioned for terrace of Regen Projects
Maltzan's triumphal moment is delivered by an upstairs terrace overlooking the Hollywood Hills with a specially commissioned glass and steel sculpture by Dan Graham, Slightly Curvaceous and a large wall featuring a site-specific text work by Lawrence Weiner stating "Above Below The Haze." Jack Pierson has installed an electric bulb sign in the shape of a curving arrow on the corner of the gallery pointing to the entrance. All the artists show with Regen. There is a kitchen on the terrace for al fresco entertaining that is sure to be popular with collectors or artists visiting from New York or Europe.
Shaun Caley Regen with Lawrence Weiner text at her new Hollywood gallery
La Brea Avenue had a number of contemporary art galleries in the 1980's but most closed or moved west to be more accessible to their affluent clients. Regen bought her building in 2010, but other galleries have been opening in the area including Perry Rubenstein, Erica Redling, Thomas Duncan, Matthew Marks, Martha Otero. Hollywood has long been home to LACE, the lively alternative space, and Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.
Asked about the daring decision to take herself west of La Brea, Regen feels that her shows will draw out anyone dedicated to contemporary art. "The gallery will become more of a destination," she says. The opening show continues through October 27. For more information, go to RegenProjects.com.
Banner image: Main gallery at Regen Projects