Friday, April 16, 2010

Randy Regier's NuPenny Installation

Intrigued by the opportunity to see an entire environment created in the mind and basement studio of Randy Regier, a few weeks ago some friends and i went on a pilgrimage. Regier's NuPenny Toy Store on view in Waterville until April 30 is absolutely worth the trip (o.k., also go to the Colby Museum of Art while you're there). The artist creates objects from re-purposed materials with such incredible skill and imagination that it is always hard to grasp that he hand-made from scratch, or rather, from found materials, such perfectly conceived toys. But they are not playthings; they are off in some odd way.

I had included some of Randy's work in the exhibition Comic-al at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art last year, but the contrast between those colorful toy creations and the sculptures in his NuPenny store installation couldn't be greater. Gone is the edgy yet light-hearted humor and nostalgia for sci-fi toys, stories, and imagery from his childhood. Instead, this overwhelmingly monochrome work excudes a sense of menace from inside the locked storefront to catch us, who are peeking in through the windows, and give us an unsettling feeling of a rift in the world. The location of the installation at an old mill building perfectly parallels this shift in reality. What we see is of this world yet it isn't. The gray atmosphere created by the robots and spaceships, their boxes and even the store's mundane implements like the tape dispenser, remind me of a black-and-white horror movie. Only here the set itself has lost all its color, its participation in our life. Some artists' creations of parallel worlds can seem escapist; not Regier's. His creations manage to hark back in time while at the same time alluding to a cold future in much more shocking ways than the sci-fi influences from his childhood that serve as his inspiration. Even our language has ceased to function in this world, instead we need to use a decoder to decipher the teletype writing on boxes and labels.

Randy Regier has received a lot of attention lately including a Maine Arts Commission 2009 Visual Arts Fellowship and several reviews in papers and magazines, the Portland Press Herald, The Boston Phoenix, and Art New England, to name just a few. The NuPenny Store will also be featured in the May issue of Maine magazine and he will have a show at Whitney Art Works next month. In his Phoenix review of the 2010 DeCordova Biennial Greg Cook claims that Regier “may be one of the best sculptors in the country” and Bob Keyes acknowledges a “streak of genius” in him. I am very glad that others share my enthusiasm and appreciation of Randy's work. Check out his websites and for more images and directions to the installation.


  1. This is great - I first saw Randy's work at the last CMCA it. Look forward to seeing more posts!

  2. So good to read about Randy's work here! Thank you! I see there are still a few more days to visit this installation and I would be so sad to miss it!!! Headed there this week.

  3. Actually, Randy's installation is supposed to travel to a few more sites in Maine, so there may be other chances of catching it.