In Memory of Kathy Reges

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In Memory of Kathy Reges

Los Angeles has been shaped by untold contributions of millions of people. Some sad events of recent days have made me think of those special people who left a wonderful and lasting legacy on our city of angels.

Dorothy Chandler was one of those visionaries who changed the community, by using her considerable influence to break the cultural barriers still existing in this city in the 1960-s. Being the very epitome of the city's waspy establishment, she reached out to the leaders of the Jewish community living on the Westside. I love the stories of this grand lady walking around the living rooms of her friends -- with a brown paper bag in her hands -- and demanding cash contributions. That-s how the Music Center was built.

Everyone knows the names of Norton Simon and Armand Hammer, with their museums being legacy to their big egos and passion for art. But I am also thinking of the late Marcia Weisman, one of the major collectors of Contemporary Art. She took to her heart an idea that this city needs a new museum, to which she and her friends promised to donate their collections. And that-s how MOCA was built. You will not find Marcia-s name plastered on its fa-ade or chiseled on the walls of the Cedar Sinai Hospital, where she initiated a remarkable program of placing contemporary artworks along the endless hallways of the hospital. Today this collection counts almost 4500 artworks and is still growing.

One of the best collections of Old Master paintings in the city was amassed by Ed and Hannah Carter whose generosity to the city is obvious to anyone who visits LACMA. Upon the death of her husband, Mrs. Carter donated about a dozen masterpieces from their collection of 17th century Dutch paintings and there is much hope that the rest of their collection will ultimately go to the museum as well. And at MOCA, there is a new exhibition of the private collection, donated to the museum by one of its trustees, Blake Byrne, in honor of his 70th birthday.

And now I want to bring up the name of Kathy Reges, who even among the many colorful members of the LA art community cut a very special figure. Kathy, a close friend, died unexpectedly a few days ago. Fiercely independent, she was unique in the way she chose the artists and the art causes she supported. Thanks to her remarkable foresight and sharp business acumen, we witnessed the transformation of a cluster of grim looking buildings, east of downtown into "The Brewery," one of the largest art colonies in the world, and home to several hundred artists, architects and designers. Among various buildings comprising the Brewery, one stands in stark contrast. It is the house that well known architect Michael Rotondi designed for Kathy. Their collaboration transformed the nondescript three-story building into an award winning futuristic architectural setting...perfectly fitting her bigger than life personality.

As a patron of the arts, Kathy Reges not only supported artists...she knew how to inspire them. Her opinions, often controversial, were always pronounced loud and clear. With her gregarious manner and good looks, a tall and imposing Kathy could not be missed even in a large crowd. Those whom she loved she loved unconditionally. She had a gift for putting people together who would have never otherwise met, and who often formed life long bonds. This might be her true legacy.